Love One Another1
by Chris Lanclos
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35 ESV
Sometime in 2011, God changed my heart and created a desire in me for Him. I really didn’t have a defining moment or a day that I can pinpoint, but it was clear that things changed. Up to that point, I was at best a nominal Christian who was probably wavering on being nominal (lol). One of the first and most clear lesson that I have learned and continue to learn about is how different God’s love is from our natural way of loving. He turned everything I thought I knew about love on its head. I want to share the three most important lessons that I learned.
Love is one of the most misunderstood concepts in our world. The world looks to Christians not for a definition of love, but as a measuring stick to each one’s definition of love. On the other hand, the church looks to God’s word for our definition, and the measuring stick for our love is God himself. In many ways, the world thinks of its love as superior to the love that Christians try to live out. This should be expected because the way we are to do love is not of man but of God, and as God says in Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” One of the stark differences that make our love different is that it is an action, something that is commanded, not an emotion that is always felt. It was one of the first realizations that became clear to me when I became a believer. Our love can be steadfast because it is not rooted in our emotions, but it is rooted in our abiding in God. We love because of the love God gives us, not because we are in the mood. This truth changed how I viewed a lot of my relationships, past and present.
The next truth about love that changed my perspective on love was the order in which we are to love. It became one of the most intriguing aspects of love for me to meditate on. God has called us to love him first, love others second, and love ourselves last. The world would tell us that we need to love ourselves first, and we need to make sure that there are people in place in our lives that love us so that we can be the best version of ourselves. After all of that, then we can love others and maybe God. This is entirely different from God’s ways. God has many reasons why his ways are better, but ultimately, it is for his glorifying, it is the best thing for us and others.
Even when I was a fake believer, I heard about our need to love our neighbors and our enemies, but I never heard about the responsibility we have to love each other. The last thing that stood out to me about love when becoming a believer was the priority that God puts on us to love other believers. In many ways, I think this might be the most overlooked aspect of how Christians should love. For many reasons, such as evangelism and desiring to fulfill a need, we tend to prioritize loving people outside the church, but Jesus told his disciples that all people would know who we belong to by our love for one another. John 15:35 has been a verse that I meditated on many times because I think the implications of the verse is many times overlooked. When I think about this verse, I think about a love so different that it marks us.
Our love for each other should be so amazing that it is the main attribute that distinguishes us beyond any other. Although our love as Christians distinguishes us when fully lived out, it is many times hated and misunderstood, because our love is different from the love this world has to offer. Our love is enabled by Jesus, defined by God, and empowered by the Spirit, and this is why our love will mark us for good, but it will also be what leads to our persecution. We must not overlook our call to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.
When I started looking for a church home in Greenwood, I was looking for two things: truth and love. Although Westminster is not perfect, there is truth and love. I appreciate that, and it was what made me want to be a part of this church. I am glad to call Westminster my church home. I want to challenge us all, especially myself, to reflect on if there is a way to love the members of our church more. Is there a way to be a people that are genuinely marked by our love for one another? Our love for each other doesn’t take away from our mission, but it is the thing that helps us accomplish our duties as a church. Remember, we need each other because we are all members of one body.