The Spirit Of Love
As Jesus Is, So Are We (Part 10, Revisted)
The Greatest Commandment in the New Covenant – Take note that this is far different from the Law as stated in the Old Covenant
Were were created to love, or to be loved? We say both, but what really matters is what came first. And what came first? God loved us first.
And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
1 John 3:23-24
We were not merely loved first, but we were given the Spirit of love, and therefore, the fruits of the Holy Spirit follow.
The Church may have different pictures – as an Army, as a Hospital, even the body of Christ; But the Lord wants us to see, beyond all these things, that we are a Family. This is what makes our belief system unique. Unlike the idealisms of the world, even down to the religions established, we can say we are different by the following ways:
1. Christ is the Foundation of Christianity. There is nothing else that brings us together, more than Christ and His finished work.
2. Christ’s presence is with us – contrary to the high feelings conjured by rituals, Christ’s finished work ensures that we have the presence, focus and attention of the Creator of the Universe.
We’re not a mere group doing religious stuff and rituals, but we’re a family celebrating Christ’s finished work. We celebrate in unity. And take note of the differences between words: Uniformity is not unity. Unity is rooted in relationships while uniformity demands submission. As such, the world does not see the love of God in uniformity (as uniformity is the norm of this finite reality), but God’s love is manifested and celebrated in our unity. Again, we come together in no less than Christ, and we love each other from this love.
Indeed, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Christ, in all His diligence and care, designed each and every one of us – fond of each and every one of us, even in the instances when we hate ourselves. These are our realizations borne out of our celebrating Christ loving us first.
Additionally, we realize that we are not accepted and loved by God based on our performance, but, again, from no less than Christ and His finished work. When we accept how we have been loved and accepted first, indeed, we are able to love and accept others. In the moments that we have issues accepting and loving other people, we are reminded to take in the Truth – the unrelenting, endless Truth that God loved us first, as proven by Christ and His finished work.
And it goes even further than this, apparently. Because it’s integral for us to remember how we are baptized by the Holy Spirit, we are reminded that we aren’t only loved and accepted, but by baptism we are immersed into His family.
Before we talk about the Greatest Commandment in the New Covenant, let us remember and clarify that we are saying nothing against the Old Covenant. It still stands, that we ought to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love others as we love ourselves – BUT, again, we are reminded with the New Covenant, that it was God who loved us first.
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Again, we are born to be loved, and to love. Imagine the opposite! Are we to demand that newborn babies ought to love their parents? They don’t even understand any of that yet! We, as babes, were loved first.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
1 John 4:7-12
John makes it clear that these are the bases for the true believers of God. God is love, and we are children of Love. (truly, we cannot talk about love without talking about God, and we cannot talk about God without talking about love, etc., etc.) Therefore, if we have issues with loving ourselves and others, let us return, remember how we are loved unconditionally and greatly by God FIRST.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. Colossians 1:3-8
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:22-25
Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
1 Peter 2:17
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing
1 Peter 3:8-9
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
1 Peter 4:7-9
Now it must be asked: Can the Church really love one another as the Lord commanded? How can we know? We’re spread all over the globe and we can’t make a blanket statement of what the status of the body of Christ is – but we know that there is STILL hope for us! Why? It’s said right there – we’re the body of CHRIST, we’re a FAMILY started and developed by no less than the Son of God Himself!
Look at the Corinthians – stingy, adulterous, quarrelling, divided folk who definitely do NOT love one another. But in all the Epistles, WHY do we consult the epistle to the Corinthians for the so-called ‘Chapter of Love’? Friends, it all came together – THEY all came together, they were ALL changed by no less than Christ and His great love to us, which came to us FIRST.
And again, we do not just have the concept and feeling of Love, but we have the SPIRIT of love poured out on us. It’s not from our efforts, but the Spirit that bears fruit – it’s by the Spirit, and not by our works that we are patient, kind, faithful, joyous, good, and able to control ourselves!
By this Spirit poured out upon us, we say – There IS Hope for the church! We’re able to help each other, not out of obligation, not out of religious theology, but the simple, but complicated LOVE of God, through Christ, who loved us FIRST!
We’re able to pray for each other, help each other, encourage each other – all by the grace of God! That’s family, folks!
We are not traversing this world and this reality alone. God is with us – undoubtedly. But we know God is with us because of the family we’ve been immersed into – not just by a conceptual love, but by the Spirit of Love that has been poured out into us.
The four fundamental principles of obeying this new command, in the new covenant:
1. Understand the Source – the Love we express to each other does not come from us – It comes from God. Indeed, we were loved first.
2. Understand the Example – the love of God as seen through Christ and His finished work. When we have issues working love, let’s remember Christ’s love as seen through His birth, death, resurrection and ascension. INdeed, when we have issues and problems being fond with God, let’s not forget – He was fond of us first!
Somebody mentions that the love of God is a ‘basic principle’; but the thing is, can we refute what is said when Paul prayed that we would grasp the height, width, length, and depth of God’s everlasting love for us? As we talked in other verses, it all comes from Him, and it all goes towards Him.
3. Submit – We not only know that love… but I believe that as we hear more and more of that love, as waves slamming against the stony cliffs again and again, we would slowly but surely yield to it. We serve as we have been served first. We extend forgiveness as we ourselves have been absolutely forgiven. We are able to relate to each other because of this love that we have yielded to.
4. Signal – The world will know that we are Christ’s when we love one another. We yield, we celebrate, we celebrate with each other, and others will see and yield themselves! There was no Facebook, no Social Media, FAR less technology and schemes and systems at the time, but the early Christians were known as the folk who ‘turn the world upside down’ – why? No less than the revolution of God’s everlasting love! Folk were added to their number daily, because of the love they yielded to first!
God is love. God resides in us. Love is in us. And we love one another.
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