With this commandment Jesus calls each of us to join the family of God. He summons us not only to turn our lives over to Him but also to other Christians. We are to "love one another" even as He has loved us which can only mean we are to literally be willing to die for each other. In fact, on the same evening in which He gave this command, only moments before He left the upper room and headed for the garden of Gethsemene, He prayed that we who believe in Him would be "one" even as He and the Father are "one" (Jn 17:20-23). Then He said again (Jn 13:35) that our obedience in this would have a powerful evangelistic influence, enabling unbelievers to recognize that Jesus is truly the Savior sent by God (Jn 17:21, 23).
Yet, as Americans we are all gripped by powerful cultural forces which are pulling us away from one another, and those forces affect believers just as much as non-believers. Like everyone around us we too are busy, distracted and wary, with little time or energy left to expend on friendships, ministry or even prayer. These cultural forces include: irregular work shifts, 60-70 hour work-weeks, 2 or 3 jobs, long commutes, lack of solitude (media blitz), cell-phones, single-parenting, chores at home, children's activities, national crises on the news, sports events and the internet's hypnotic draw (games, chat rooms, growing solitaire...). So, if this commandment is something we will actually be able to obey we'll need to investigate not only why it's important and what this kind of love looks like, but to think practically about ways to arrange our lives so there's time and energy for the family of God.
Why should we have a special love for other Christians? (Eph 4:1-6)
One body (Christ's church)
One Spirit (Holy Spirit within)
One hope (eternal life together)
One Lord (one person commands us all)
One faith (we all cling to the same cross)
One baptism (symbolic act of becoming a disciple)
One God (the Father, Son & Spirit)
One Father (the Source of all creation)
Why do we need to spend time with each other? God has called us to be:
1) Servants who wash one another's feet
Jn 13:1-17, 34, 35
We need each other to grow
What did washing the disciples' feet represent? Priests: bath (Ex 29:4), robes (Ex 29:5,6); laver (Ex 30:17); believers: baptism, righteousness, confession, etc.; we are to wash off of one another what accumulates by walking through this world.
Discouragement, condemnation, loneliness, unbelief, fear, oppression.
We're to do for one another what Jesus has done for us; and we're to do it with the same attitude [He humbled Himself and took the role of a servant (non-judgmental, but cleansing)]
We all need continued cleansing, healing, encouraging, etc.
In his letters Paul tells us to:1) be members of one another (Ro 12:5); 2) be devoted to one another (Ro 12:10); 3) honor one another (Ro 12:10); 4) be of the same mind with one another (Ro 15:5); 5) accept one another (Ro 15:7); 6) admonish one another (Ro 15:14); 7) greet one another (Ro 16: 3-6, 16); 8) serve one another (Gal 5:13); 9) bear one another's burdens (Gal 6:2), (help restore a person who's sinned); 10) bear with one another (Eph 4:2), (patiently endure difficult people); 11) submit to one another (Eph 5:21), (listen to admonition and advice); 12) encourage one another (1Th 5:11), (edify, strengthen their faith, (parakaleo), Henry Fish quote (The Radical Wesley, Howard Synder, p. 56, 1980)
2) Members of an interdependent body
Eph 4:15, 16; 1Co 12:13; Ro 12:3-8
We need each other to release the ministry of Christ.
God gives and withholds gifts from us so that His glory will be seen when we work together.
3) Children who belong to the family of God
Family: a people to whom we belong based on birth, not performance. Relationships marked by warmth, tenderness, loyalty. A place where we are safe enough to be ourselves without fear of rejection.
We need each other to have the joy of Christ which is our strength. (loneliness and isolation weakens us).
1Jn 2:10, 11; 3:10-18; 4:7-12; 4:20, 21
4) Priests whose gatherings are like a living temple upon which the presence of the Spirit rests. 1Pe 2:5; Ps 133
5) Citizens of an eternal kingdom
â¢ We need each other so the world can see the love of God
"Come to church with me and you'll see what heaven will be like"
What practical steps can we take?
Time spent with electronic entertainment
Ask God to show us unnecessary elements of our schedule.
Schedule exercise and rest
Start simply (L.T.G., prayer meeting, small group)
Ask God to show you who you can help (don't start by thinking of leading, start by helping).
What will the world see?
People who aren't lonely anymore
People who are doing meaningful service
People who get free from old bondages and live transformed lives
People who are remarkably kind to one another
People who appear to be enjoying life
People who warmly invite you to join them
1) Name someone who has "washed your feet" (humbly served you when you were in need)
2) Name a situation where God asked you to wash someone else's feet.
3) Have you ever ministered as part of a team? Paul says we are made like the different parts of a body (1Co 12:12-27; Ro 12:3-8). What part were you? Can you identify some of the gifts He has given you, and also some of the gifts you lack?