Loving Like Jesus
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”— John 13:27-31
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flame, but have not love, I gain nothing. — 1 Cor. 13:1-3
Can there be faith without love? Can there be piety without love? Can there be good deeds and giving to those in need without love? Theoretically, yes. According to Paul, we can have deep devotion to Christ or an unwavering belief in God and concurrently not have what Jesus gives as the key indicator of his disciples, love. Love cannot and should not be narrowed down to a human attitude or even a human action. The act of giving is not love itself, but merely an expression of love or some other motive. Love is not the feeling of affection felt toward those with whom we have camaraderie or brotherhood where affection is reciprocated.
Claiming devotion to Jesus and being transformed by him are two different things. If we’re going to follow him, we need to be like him and love like him. Love transcends disunity and it does so with the goal of bringing unity. Love extends, reaches out, and pursues unloving and unlovable people. So then, how do we go from claiming fidelity to Christ to loving like him? The answer is simultaneously simple and hard-learned. Stay close to God and allow Him to work through us and purge hate from our hearts. As John writes, Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. —1 John 4:7-9
People can be hurtful, disrespectful, mean, irritating, hateful, and all around sinful. They can be hard to love. Apart from clinging to and learning from divine love, we have no hope of loving like Jesus. When we learn to let God work on us and purge hate, bitterness, and anger from us, we learn to love others the way God loves us. We learn to love like Jesus.