John 13:34: Jesus said, “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”
Devotion: My kindergarten son wrote his first complete sentence: “I like dad.” I was very proud of him, and astonished at his maturity. He has struggled to learn his alphabet, numbers, and articulate his thoughts. So, a deep sense of pride welled up within me for my son when I saw his first sentence, notwithstanding the fact that he wrote it across his sister’s bedroom wall.
Too many Christians in the local church are stuck on this elementary spiritual state: they like each other but they do not love one another. How many churches do you know that are filled with “friendly” people but the members are not friends? Friendly people keep a protective distance from others while friends authentically enter into the lives of one another. Friends care for each other in holistic ways (i.e., compassion for hurts and pains, common courtesy, respect, willingness to sacrifice for the betterment of others, time spent listening and sharing, building up each other, giving generous space for opposing views, etc.). Friends do not find people “just like them” (how boring!) but they find people who will love them for who they are and who they are becoming in Christ.
Jesus Christ commanded that his disciples love one another (Greek agape, self-sacrificing love). The apostles were vastly different from one another with a hodgepodge of working class fishermen, financial experts, Publicans, a traitor, and zealots. Yet, Jesus’ new command summarizes the old commands into a single call to universal service. The command came from Jesus’ Trinitarian experience! Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” Christ’s followers display the Trinity’s reciprocating love as Christ’s a witness to the world. God chose to display this witness in the local church!
What message would the world recognize about God if local Christians stopped liking one another but started loving each other?
Prayer: Our Father in Heaven, thank you for becoming our friend in Jesus Christ. Now, make us friends with believers in the world by the work of your Holy Spirit. Amen.
Prayer Exercise: “Emmaus Prayer Walk,” page 214, in Patricia D. Brown, “Paths to Prayer: Finding Your Own Way to the Presence of God,” (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003). ISBN: 0-779-6565-0. Copyright © 2003 by Patricia D. Brown. All rights reserved.
 John 15:9-10