How should we expect to relate to one another as disciples of Christ? How should we expect to relate to the world? These remain important questions. When people mix up the two, they often end up compromising truth in search of approval by men. To often we try to be loved by the world and are willing to create division amongst followers of Christ to try to achieve this goal. We often get it backwards.
Yeshua answered these questions for us. As disciples, or “learners”, of Christ we should love one another as He has loved us. This is significant. He laid down His life for us.
How we expect to relate to the world is quite different. If we are with Christ, we should expect to be rejected and hated by the world, because we are not of the world. Too often today churches and Christians try to change their beliefs or doctrine to suit society and culture around them so they are more acceptable to others outside the church or so they can face less conflict. This is a trap. We are to be a light, that contrasts with darkness. Those who live in darkness hate the light (John 3:19-21). We are to testify about Him in the face of conflict with the world. Do not expect to follow Christ and be loved or accepted by the world.
Disciples’ Relation to Each Other
12“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14“You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17“This I command you, that you love one another.
Disciples’ Relation to the World
18“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21“But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 22“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23“He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24“If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25“But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.’
26“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, 27and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
To summarize, we are to love one another as disciples of Christ and be prepared to face conflict with the world as we testify to Christ. Let us not lose track of that reality and try to please the world, for if we do, we will lose Christ in the process.
We should also be thoughtful about what “love one another” means. It is not to accept everyone in their sin. We don’t get to define what love means. The Father already has defined it. We need to understand His definition of love.
36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38“This is the great and foremost commandment. 39“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Yeshua points out very directly that loving YHWH and loving one another is the basis of the whole Law and the Prophets. If we are to love one another (fellow disciples of Christ), then we must seek to understand the Law and the Prophets that are recorded in scripture in the Tanakh, or what we more commonly refer to as the Old Testament. This is not my opinion, but the direction of Christ Himself.
I believe that the New Testament is also helpful in studying what love is, but we must take care not to create new meaning that is inconsistent with the Old Testament, lest we untether ourselves from truth and begin to drift. I do find 1 Corinthians 13 helpful.
The Excellence of Love
1If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
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