"My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:33-35
Love doesn't define God; God defines love. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that God's love is the superior love. His kind of love is active, as Paul says in Romans 12. His kind of love is not the "warm-fuzzy" love that is defined by impulse and emotion; that is "eros" love. His kind of love is not defined by warm and noble affection; that is "philia" love. His kind of love is defined by giving and serving; His kind of love is "agape" love. Jesus' disciples followed Him for over three years; they were with Him as He preached about the kingdom of God; they were with Him when He healed the sick and raised people from the dead. People recognized them because they were with Jesus. However, Jesus was now telling them that He was about to leave, and He told them that where He was going they could not go. What now for the disciples? How would they be identified as Christ followers now?
Jesus made it very clear to His disciples, and He makes it very clear to Christ followers today: we will be known as His followers by His kind of love in us and through us. We are not merely identified because we wear a Christian t-shirt or bracelet; we are not merely identified because we are a member of this church or that church; we are not merely known because we serve on this team or have this position or gave this amount of money. No. We are known and identified as true Christ followers by His kind of love, "agape" love, in us and through us. His kind of love is marked by giving, not getting. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that HE GAVE His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." His kind of love is marked by serving, not being served. Jesus says in Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but TO SERVE, and TO GIVE His life as a ransom for many." As Christ followers, we need to embrace these words of Jesus in John 13:33-35. His kind of love in us changes us, and it changes the way we see and hear and speak and move. Christ followers, may we be identified and known by His kind of love. May we be known as givers and servers in the communities He has placed us. May His kind of love change us and change the world in which we live. Amen.