Imagine the night before Jesus’ crucifixion. He has communion with His disciples and washes their feet. He reveals that Judas is the one who will betray Him. He tells the disciples that He is leaving and they can’t come. Then, He speaks these words:
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35)
By virtue of the fact that this would be, in part, His final words to the disciples, they had to be very important. And notice that what He said to them was in the form of a command, not a suggestion.
I am sure that everyone reading this letter has read or heard this passage many times. But in reality, most do not think that this is something they can actually do. It’s a goal that they may strive to reach with gritted teeth, but usually with little success.
It begs the question—would Jesus give His disciples a command He knew they couldn’t keep? The answer is obviously no, so why is it so hard for us today to love other people? Could it be this simple—we can’t give what we don’t have?
The majority of churches are teaching that God’s love for us is conditional. They are misrepresenting His love, and it is one of the main reasons that we as Christians are so judgmental and harsh toward other people.
Consciously or not, we tend to treat people the way we believe God is treating us.
We must understand that God does not love us because we are lovely. He does not love us because we read the Bible, go to church, pay our tithes, or do our best to keep the command to love others as He loved us. The truth is that He loves us without conditions. That’s huge!
I grew up in a Baptist church where all that was preached was the message of evangelism. They made me feel like I had to pay God back for saving me by leading others to Jesus. It became such a part of me that I used to say this: “The sole purpose for our existence here on this earth is to lead somebody else to Jesus.”
Then the Lord spoke this to me—“If evangelism is the sole purpose for your existence, then what about Adam and Eve? They had no one to lead to the Lord, no Sunday school class to teach, no one to pray for, and no physical need of any kind.” The answer can be found in Revelation 4:11—
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
The original purpose of all creation was to give God pleasure. And that is still God’s purpose. Adam and Eve were created for fellowship with God. He wanted someone to love and for them to voluntarily love Him back.
God’s purpose for creating human beings was all about relationship. But religion has succeeded at turning us from “human beings” into “human doings.” When that becomes the focus, we begin to tie God’s love for us to something that we do for Him. I did! But that was never His plan.
Over the years, I have prayed for thousands of people. The vast majority of those who come forward begin by telling me about their spiritual lives: “I’ve been praying, fasting, reading the Bible, and attending church, but I’m still not healed.” They don’t realize it, but they just told me why they weren’t healed. They’re pointing to what they are doing instead of what Jesus has done.
The same is true about our relationship with the Lord and with other people. We have come to believe that God loves us and acts on our behalf based on our performance. Therefore, we hold others to the same standard—our love for them is in direct proportion to their works, or how they treat us.
Romans 5:8 says,
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
God’s love has never been or ever will be conditional. He loved you at your worst, and most Christian churches would agree with that initially. They believe you are saved by grace through faith, no matter your history, but that is often where grace stops and religion starts. And religion always puts the emphasis on the external.Read More