A new commandment I give to you, that you love one: 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.
Love one another. Easier said than done, right? It’s easy to love nice people, those who are well put together. But those other people–no way! God’s call is radical, and this is probably the most radical part of His call, to love people. On our own, our love is probably pretty selective, limited to a small circle of people. But with God’s Spirit inside of us, we are now capable of having love where without Him it would be impossible. We are capable of loving and we are called to love.
Even those who bad mouth us? Yup. Romans 12:9,10 and 14 says, “Let love be genuine. Abhor (hate) what is evil, hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor…Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” Wow. That’s a tall order. Jesus commanded it, so to do less would be disobedience. Instead of loving others like we love ourselves, which was the previous model, Jesus said to love others like He loved them.
If we just loved others like we love ourselves, it would be a self-centered, self-serving love. Not so with Jesus. He was the opposite, washing their feet, hanging out with outcasts, showing compassion when they were peopled out. And that’s what He wants us to be like. So if we pray, “God, make me like Jesus,” the first thing God would work on is giving us more opportunities to love.
There’s not a lot of wiggle room in the Bible. John heard Jesus give this command, and he added to it in 1 John 2:9, “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” And in 1 John 3:14, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.”
In Galatians 5:22 one of the fruits of the Spirit is love. That means that we can love because the Holy Spirit is in us, loving for us and through us. When you struggle to love someone, pray specifically for God to love them for you and through you. Again, it is our command and our call to love. To do less would be disobedience.