I'm often sad about how Christians behave toward one another. Seriously. Church splits occur over the most petty things. People won't (as in refuse to) fellowship with others because of past events, and we hold grudges that are quite against the calling of Scripture. Yet Jesus said "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.” John 13:34-35
Let's break this down a moment:
-"A New Commandment I give to you." It's not a suggestion that we love one another. We're not even supposed to put conditions on it; Jesus commanded it, so our feelings on the matter are settled: we MUST love one another.
-"Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." How did Jesus love His disciples then, and how does He love us now? His word through the prophets and apostles state that He remembers our sins no more. We, too, must also let go of grudges and histories and hurt other believers may have inflicted on us. According to Philippians 2, he lowered Himself to the form of a SLAVE for everyone; we, too must serve all! Jesus said "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” And not only did he enslave Himself for us, He died for us! We, too, must die for one another, if not physically, in the setting aside of our own wants, wishes and desires to serve, honor and love one another.
-"By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Jesus says that this is the mark of His TRUE followers: the love that they have for one another. Jesus' character and personality are reflected in the way in which His followers copy His example. That we enslave ourselves to Christ, and so to His people, that we die for one another and sacrifice for one another, shows Christ's love. So, why is Love for one another the mark of a follower of Jesus? As petty as we can be and the grudges we hold, unity among humans is something only Jesus can do. It is HIS love that can transform us, destroy grudges and erase the past. it is His love that can unify and draw people together, and it is by His love that we can stand firm against the divisiveness of the world. Stand firm in Christ.
Examine your actions: are you marked by Christ in how you love one another? If not, now's a good time to drop to your knees, repent, and ask for God's Holy Spirit to supernaturally transform your heart. It is something we can't fake or manufacture, but by His power, we can truly love as we were meant to. 1 John 4:7-20 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.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.