The text this week comes from John 13:31-35. The disciples and Jesus had just finished the last supper, when Jesus gave them one last lesson before the crucifixion. He told them “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is Glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.” (Which is a complicated way of explaining the trinitarian relationship between God and Jesus). He then switches from an intricate way of speaking to a soft, deeply intimate voice. He tells them; “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.”
This week’s text offers us a classic piece of theology: Love others. Love folks who are unloveable. Love those who might not love you back. Love others to the extent that love itself becomes ultimately synonyms with my name and with those who follow me. I think what makes this commandment so potent is how it exists in this frustrating duality of simplicity and complexity. We confidently think to ourselves, “Alright, cool. Love people, I can get behind that. Sounds easy.” but then once we explore a bit deeper we can’t help but to try and barter some exceptions to it. The scripture presents an outward appearance of simplicity, while smuggling in this challenge to follow a style of living that we probably struggle with.
While this week’s text offers bold theological guidance for loving those who mutually exist in the world, it can also be understood as a challenge to love those around us specifically when the world is feeling like it’s about to cave in. It is a challenge for us to confront our individualistic “Fight or flight” reactions to fear, and instead put love as our directive above all else. Maybe it’s just me, but it sure does feel like there’s a ton of fear out there ya’ll. The wisdom of this text acknowledges and affirms that fear—but begs us to chose love instead.
I’ll invite you to consider this: who is in need of love today? What do they look like? Where are they from? Will your interactions with them reflect the same love Christ gave?