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Jesus' call: “Love each other”

August 22, 2023

Daily Scripture

John 13:31-35, 15:8-17

John 13
31 When Judas was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Human One [or Son of Man] has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify the Human One [or Son of Man] in himself and will glorify him immediately. 33 Little children, I’m with you for a little while longer. You will look for me—but, just as I told the Jewish leaders, I also tell you now—‘Where I’m going, you can’t come.’
34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”

John 15
9 “As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy will be in you and your joy will be complete. 12 This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I don’t call you servants any longer, because servants don’t know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because everything I heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you could go and produce fruit and so that your fruit could last. As a result, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. 17 I give you these commandments so that you can love each other.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Bishop Michael Curry noted how the timing of Jesus’ words took “loving” far beyond fuzzy, fluffy sentimentality: “This was not long before Jesus’ death, when he would show what love looks like; giving of the self, even sacrificing the self for the good and well-being of others.” * “As I have loved you” was a whole new level of loving. Jesus’ followers saw that they couldn’t love that way on their own. The apostle Paul called love the first fruit of the Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:22).

  • Imagine you were one of Jesus’ followers. After three years of daily contact, he said he wouldn’t be physically with you anymore. But he would send the Holy Spirit, and “as I have loved you, so you also must love each other.” Could you accept the sincere (but at times faulty) love of other disciples as a sign of Jesus’ love to you? Can you today? Do you agree with Jesus that seeing that deep quality of love beyond emotionalism is the sure sign of being Jesus’ disciples?
  • Jesus began John 15:9 with ten key words: “As the Father loved me, I too have loved you.” Just as the moon reflects the sun’s light, our love for others reflects God’s love for us. In what practical ways do you live out your commitment to love God and others? To what extent are you able to view self-giving, not self-gratification, as key to the kind of love that makes life genuinely worth living? How can your church be, above all, a living model of God’s love for all people?

O Lord, help me not to pretend to love as an outward disguise to hide my anger or pain. Let me love from my heart as your love overflows and bubbles out of me to bless others. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

If you’ve read my posts here before, you know that mental health is kind of my thing. I talk openly about my depression and other mental health issues. People have talked to me about this, calling me brave or enlightening. Let me be completely honest for a moment here: while I completely appreciate the praise and it keeps me going at times, this is actually a fairly safe space to be talking about this. The real tests of my openness, and my commitment to helping people with mental health issues, comes in other places and sometimes at very unexpected times.

It was about ten years ago, the Friday night before Easter. I’m a night owl, so it’s about midnight and I was winding down for the night when I got a phone call from an old friend. We hadn’t talked in months. I answered the phone and he was crying. He said he was drunk, high, and feeling suicidal. I asked where he was, and he was in a parking lot in Topeka (about an hour from where I was). I told him I’d be right there. I stopped at a gas station to pick up some coffee and drove to Topeka at 12:30 AM to console my friend. It was 2:00 AM before we finally got a motel for the night and crashed. I played in the church band on Easter morning with noticeable bags under my eyes, and I think I really scared one of the volunteers that weekend who asked how I was doing, so I gave him an honest answer. But it made a world of difference for my friend.

I don’t say this to put myself forth as some kind of hero. While I acted without hesitation here, there are still many times I don’t act quickly, or don’t act at all. I write this aspirationally, because this was one time I did things really right, and I’m hoping I can find the strength and courage to do things like that again. It wasn’t easy, but I find myself struggling sometimes with things that are far easier than this. This was one of my success stories, and I’m trying to find other ways to act like this with other people in my life.

In our culture, love is too often reduced to a simple feeling: love is desire, or a warm feeling when we’re around someone. Jesus paints a wildly different picture for his disciples: love is life-changing, and it is measured in sacrifice. It’s that last part that really differentiates what we too often think of as love from love that really matters. Jesus showed us a love that was sacrifice, and that’s the kind of love he asked us to practice.

If you’re wondering how my friend is doing today, the honest answer is I don’t know. While we grew up together and went to the same church, his parents and some of the people around him were abusive and wielded the Bible like a weapon to force his compliance, so he had a complete falling out with religion shortly before this incident. While we got along great and respected our differences, being around me was just too painful of a reminder of the abuse and oppression that he suffered, so we drifted apart. I do know that this incident prompted him to see a psychiatrist for the first time and get on an antidepressant, and that this was life-changing for him. Our parting was not a moral flaw in him—he did not owe me anything for that one dramatic moment. If anything, it was actually an important step in him doing the right thing for his mental health even when it wasn’t easy. For me, this is an important reminder that the best outcomes are not necessarily the ones that make us feel the best.

It’s easy to love when it will be reciprocated, or when you’ll feel like the hero; but it’s those quiet, thankless moments where the sacrifice doesn’t equal the emotional reward that are the true measure of our love. Love is not transactional, and sometimes it requires us to operate at a loss. Of course we need love in return to sustain us, but there will be times when the people in our lives need us to love them and get nothing in return. That’s OK. Be on the lookout for people who need you, not just people who will reward you. Those are the moments that can make the biggest difference.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Curry, Bishop Michael. The Power of Love (p. 19). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.