“A new command (mandate) I give you: Love one another.”
Jesus goes on to say, “As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Jesus seems to say that if we love people in a way that they interpret as love, they will recognize Him in our midst and somehow be drawn in. I think that’s an important distinction during these times in which we live. This is a fairly controversial point and perhaps you disagree; perhaps I’ll disagree with the following thought in the future.
“Love the sinner, but hate the sin.” -that’s been the mantra for the past decade or so for Christians who feel they must combat what they perceive as sin. “Sometimes, to really love someone, you have to show them where they are wrong.” I suppose that’s true, but I would think that sort of surgery can only be performed in deeply personal relationships where there is trust. Regardless, that brand of “love” has largely been interpreted as hate. People aren’t seeing that expression of love and being drawn to Jesus. If people aren’t seeing an expression of love and wanting to be a part of Jesus’ Movement, then maybe we’re doing it wrong. I can say that because when people who were VERY far from God experienced Jesus’ love two thousand years ago, they wanted in! They loved Jesus! If we’re not getting the same response (it’s usually the opposite), then maybe we should reconsider the “love the sinner but hate the sin” model of loving people. Maybe we should try keeping our hate for the sin to ourselves. Maybe we should try hating our own sin exclusively. Maybe we should just mind our own business for a season.
What would happen if every follower of Jesus committed to abandoning all other models of expressing their faith for one year and simply loved one another? What if we just decided we would not speak a condemning word for one year? What would happen if we all just offered kind and encouraging words to everyone? What if we helped everyone know how much they matter to God? Don’ worry, there’s law enforcement for criminals. No need to fear that crime would go unchecked. Our civilian job, however, is to love people no matter what. If the world falls apart in that year, we can use Facebook to confront sin again.
Jesus modeled the Movement the night He gave the commandment. One by one, He washed His disciples’ feet. He washed Judas’ feet, knowing he’d betray Him. He washed Peter’s feet, knowing he’d disown Him. He washed Thomas’ feet, knowing his heart was all over the place. At that moment, I’m sure no one hated sin more, but He kept that to Himself and just showed them love.
Jesus commands us to love. It seems He commands us to love in a way that is perceived as love. My hope is that we find ways to turn popular opinion around. If the world begins to see Christians as the most loving group of people on the planet, like Jesus hoped for, maybe everything that we hate will ultimately work itself out.