Questions 102 & 103

Before Jesus went to the cross*, he met with his disciples.* He told them many things that would happen to him. He told them that he was going away. He told them that He would send the Holy Spirit* to help them. He gave them a new command to love each other. ‘You must love each other as I have loved you.’ The first part of the command was not new. God had told his people to love their neighbors.* He gave that command to Moses* many years before Jesus lived. But now, Jesus says that those who follow him must love one another as Jesus has loved them. Just as Jesus had served them, they would need to serve each other. Jesus loved them. Now they would need to love one another.

 

Jesus gave that command to a small group of men who ate with him the night before he died. But they understood that this was a command for anyone who would follow Jesus. When the Apostles* wrote their letters to the churches, they reminded them of Jesus’ command many times.[1] The church was to be a place where people loved other people as Jesus had loved them.

 

This was an important thing to say to these new churches. Most of the churches had started with Jews* as the only members. But soon, many men and women who were not Jews began to believe in Jesus. In the Old Testament*, the Jews did not mix with people from other nations. They followed the one, true God while the people who were not Jews worshipped* idols.* Only Jews could go into the holy places in the Temple.* So, the Jews were separate from people who were not Jews.

 

But now, the Gentiles* were part of the new, holy* people that God had chosen. They did not know many of the laws* that God had given the Jews. So, in the beginning of the church, the Jews did not always know how to welcome these new believers* and accept them as brothers and sisters. But the Holy Spirit helped the Apostles to understand what to say about this problem.

 

So how can we show love to one another? The Apostles answered that question in many places in the New Testament.*[2]

 

There, the scriptures* tell us to be people who are at peace* with one another.[3] We are not to argue with each other or complain about what God is doing in our world. We are to show patience with one another and serve each other. We are not to envy each other or boast about ourselves. Instead, we are to be patient, gentle, and kind. If we hurt someone, we must work to correct the wrong that we have done. And if someone hurts us, we must not hurt them. We must forgive them and try to understand them.

 

We must ask God to help us become people who can love one another. We must ask God to make us humble and not proud. We must serve other people rather than expecting them to serve us. We must not lie to each other but speak the truth. We are to encourage one another. We are not to be people who judge and find fault with each other. We must be people who build each other up. We must never forget to pray for one another.

 

We cannot do these things or be this kind of people without the Holy Spirit to help us. But because he is in us and is at work in us, we can follow Jesus’ new command. When we love each other, the people close to us will know that we are followers* of Jesus. And when they see what God has done in us, God may use that to bring them to Jesus too.


[1] Romans 13:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:2; 1 John 4:11
[2] John 13:34; John 15:12; John 15:17; Romans 13:8; Romans 14:13; Galatians 5:13; Galatians 6:2; Ephesians 4:25; Ephesians 4:32; Philippians 2:3; Colossians 3:9; Colossians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; Hebrews 10:24; James 4:11; James 5:9; James 5:16; 1 Peter 4:9; 1 Peter 5:5; 1 John 3:11; 1 John 4:7; 2 John 5
[3] Mark 9:50; John 6:43