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.”
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.
“Woody once risked his life to save mine, and I couldn’t call myself his friend if I wasn’t willing to do the same. Now who’s with me?” *
From insecurity and rivalry, Buzz and Woody moved to genuine friendship as they grew secure in Andy’s love. At the foundation of all Christian faith is a deep trust that God loves us. This was (and is) a remarkable belief. Egyptians, Canaanites, Greeks or Romans—none of them believed their gods loved them. But Christians believe Jesus lived out that belief and showed us how it shapes life for the better. And that belief fundamentally changes how we relate to all other people, those who are close to us and those who are “other.” Jesus told his followers he didn’t call them servants but friends. And the most distinctive response he asked of them was to live in God’s love and to love one another.
Lord Jesus, I want everyone to know I am your disciple. Guide me to live in such a way that the evidence of my commitment to you isn’t argument or cold “truth,” but a life of love reflecting your eternal love for me. Amen.
Jesus was an incredible friend and encourager. He saw the best in everyone no matter what they had said or done. Read 1 John 4:7, 18-21. As a family, think of the people who see the highest potential in each of you. Talk about who cheers you on, builds you up and offers you hope. Create a list of those encouraging people in your lives. What qualities do they have that identify them as encouragers? Find a way to thank those people for their encouragement. Ask how you can be more encouraging to others and live out this quality of Christ. Discuss how can you see the best in people. Pray together, thanking God for seeing the best in you and in everyone. Ask God to help you grow as an encouraging person.
My mother had a real gift for always recognizing and bringing out the best in others. Growing up, I had no doubt that God loved me, because my mother demonstrated Jesus’ unconditional love for me every day of her life.
As teacher for 30+ years she also embodied the love of Christ for her students and co-workers. When she would have a challenging student, her common description was “extra love required.” This wasn’t an empty quip for my mother. This was her mission – her calling. She shared “extra love” with those others labeled unlovable. She welcomed everyone into her circle of love.
“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other. (John 13:34-35). Today’s scripture passage could be my mother’s life verse. Everyone knew that she was a disciple of Jesus because of the way she loved others.
This brings me to take a long look at myself, and ask: Do people know that I am a disciple of Jesus because I love others? I’m not sure. I admit that sometimes when I encounter those “extra love required” people, my response is to turn away.
I try to live out my faith and love others, but, the thing I’ve learned is that I can’t always just force myself to love others. When I try to do it by myself, it's just too hard. I can go through the motions, but my heart isn't there.
When I heed Jesus's commandment, I have to set my will aside and focus on God’s amazing love for me. When I do this, it’s much easier to love – even those who are “extra love required.” If I am focused on following Jesus, loving others is a natural outflow.
Just like Buzz and Woody in Toy Story learned to love each other when they realized how much Andy loved them, Jesus’ love is the key to our loving one another.
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