My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.John 15:12-13
This section begins and ends with the command of Jesus:
I command you to love one another. The fact that this is put in the imperative mode means it is not an option in our life. It is not something we do if we feel like it. It is to be a deliberate response to another person whom we know to be in the family of God, regardless of how we feel toward that person.
Many people struggle at this point. They say,
How can you command love? Love is a feeling, and if you don't love somebody, you can't help it. Love is our master; we do not master it. Those who say these things reveal that they have a very serious misconception of love. Unfortunately, we are victims of Hollywood in this respect. We think of love as a feeling we have of affection toward another.
But love, as Jesus speaks of it here, is far different. We can be sure of one thing: He would never command us to do what is impossible for us to do. The secret, of course, is that we are to love, He says,
as I have loved you. This kind of love is to arise out of the same kind of relationship that He has with the Father that made it possible for Him to love us. In this same manner, and from the same source, we are to love one another with the same quality of love. He loved us because God is love, and He was indwelt by the Father. He was in the Father, and the Father in Him. As He yielded to that relationship, love flowed out. It could not help it--God is love. Since God is love, as we yield to that relationship to the Son, love flows from us. And it will have the qualities that His love has. He goes on to define for us the aspects of love that mark the quality of His love for us, which we also are to show to one another.
The first is given in the words,
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Love lays down its life for another. We all know how fully Jesus Himself exemplified this. His is the greatest love that anyone can demonstrate toward friends. Obviously this means more than simply dying physically for them. If it meant only that, there would be very few of us who could or would ever fulfill this, largely because we would lack the opportunity to do so. And, of course, one could do so only once! But our Lord is commanding us to do this repeatedly. So He means by this that we are to give ourselves up for one another. When you go out of your way to meet a friend's need, when you are willing to spend time with someone who is a Christian just because that one is a Christian--not necessarily because you are drawn to that person--and you are willing to go out of your way and to give yourself up for him or her, you are laying down your life, a part of it at least, for that person. This is what Jesus had in mind.
Lord, You have loved me with this kind of love. Now I pray that this same love would flow through me to others in the body of Christ.
What does it mean to love one another? How can we love someone we are not drawn to? What role do feelings play in loving others?