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Pointers along the way #37

A command to love
- Jacob Ninan

It was a new commandment that Jesus gave to His disciples, to love one another as He loved them (Jn.13:34). We can find a catch as well as comfort in that commandment. The catch is that we are not just to love, but to love as Jesus loves us. The comfort is that Jesus loves us tremendously, and the more we experience that it becomes easier for us to love others in the same way.

Our problem is that we find it difficult to love those who are not lovable - those who do wrong to us, who treat us unkindly or unjustly, who don't appreciate what we have done for them, or even those whose face or manners we don't like. But what Jesus is telling us is to love even such people, because that is how He loves us. Looking at us from His state of perfection, everything about us is so imperfect, sinful and wrong! Yet He loves us. So when He tells us to love others He is not telling us to love only those who are lovable but even all the others out there who come through to us as those who do not deserve our love. He asked His disciples once what was so great about loving those who loved them, challenging them to love even their enemies (Mt.5:44-47).

The closer we get to God, the more clearly we see our own imperfections, and what we had thought were 'small' sins take on an ugly appearance. Then we begin to appreciate better what it means for God to love us. Another thing that happens is that the little things that used to irritate us about others are no longer so big in our eyes, and the sins that we notice in others are not so unforgivable anymore!

That is a wonderful thing to happen. But this joy of drawing closer to God and experiencing His love and His work of transformation in our lives goes side by side with the pain of recognising how small, weak and corrupt our love is. This should drive us to cry out to God for pouring out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Ro.5:5). This paradoxical looking experience is what a godly man has as he is drawn nearer to God and draws himself nearer to God (Php.2:12,13).