The following meditation was written by Dr. Michael Brown,
our Distinguished Preacher on January 26, 2020.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you.”
John 15:12 (New Heart English Bible)
In the written records of what Jesus said, there is only one time when he used the word “command.” Even in Matthew’s gospel where the author’s entire intent is to portray Jesus as the “new Moses” who reinterprets the Commandments, he never says “command.” It only happened in the Upper Room. John tells the story. Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet (i.e., he stooped to serve others). Immediately he said, “Do you know what I have done for you? I have given you an example” (calling his disciples to live lives of service, as well). And then, in case they still hadn’t got the message, he said it clearly and unequivocally: “This I command you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you.”
That’s it – THE Great Commandment. You and I were put here to love. That is our only purpose, at least, according to no less an authority than Jesus. Leo Buscaglia used to say: “Find love, find life.” The opposite of that, clearly, is: “Fail to love, fail to live with purpose and meaning.”
At the end of the day, it all boils down to this: Those who live a life of love (even when it’s not easy) are genuine followers of Jesus. Others who yield to anger, prejudice, greed, gossip, unkindness, impatience, intolerance, revenge, hatefulness or hurtfulness in word, deed, or on social media, can use all the religious talk they choose. However, it’s just talk. If we’re not motivated by love for others – and that means all others (even those who don’t look like us, think like us, act like us, or vote like us) – then we’re not authentic followers of The Messiah. “This I command you,” he said.
I have always believed that “Love” is a verb. It’s not just something we feel. Instead, it’s something we do about what we feel. So, to say “Yes” to Christ’s command basically means this: Every day in every decision and every encounter, we will ask, “Is this the loving thing to say or do?” If the answer is Yes, then we move forward. If it’s No, we don’t. If we cannot make that commitment, then we may have heard the voice of Jesus in the Upper Room but we didn’t listen. “This I command you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you.”