You can’t do “one another” by yourself.Pastor Jeremy Treat, Reality LA
When it comes to following Jesus as His disciple, I think one of the hardest aspects to fully grasp is following His commandment to “love one another” as He loves us. It sounds easy enough… but as you obediently follow it, you realize just how refining of a commandment it is. And it’s one that I think will bring us to refinement throughout our entire life.
As Elder Les has been introducing us to our church’s 2021 theme, “Come, Follow Me”, and as we prepare for Life Groups starting next month, our leadership felt that the sermon we shared this past Sunday from Reality LA, “Love One Another” (stemming from John 13:34-35) was quite fitting for us at this time. Pastor Jeremy Treat’s reminder and exhortation of Jesus’ commandment to love one another (as He has loved us) falls well into our desire to grow together as the body of Christ within our Moving Forward plan.
Now I hope that the quote I shared at the beginning of this post from Pastor Jeremy seemed more obvious to you. Phrases like “one another” or “together” implies that we are addressing not one person individually, but a group of two or more. Like it says, you can’t do “one another” if you’re alone–it requires others. But why state the obvious? Well, because you’ve probably heard (or perhaps felt yourself) general sentiments similar to the following at one point or another in your walk as a Christian:
- “I believe in Jesus, but I don’t care much for church.”
- “I only need Jesus, not other people.”
- “My relationship with Jesus has nothing to do with the church.”
- “I’ll go to church, but I don’t really need to know people there.”
These statements are mostly derived from experiences that remind us of the sin of man and how relationships with other people (Christian & non-Christian alike) are often complicated, messy, and difficult. And because of these experiences and sentiments, it makes sense that some come to rationalize that following Jesus is only an individual journey. While your relationship with Christ is personal, and He indeed knows and speaks to us on an individual level, Scripture reminds us time and time again of our need for community for multiple reasons (refinement being one of them). In fact the New Testament has 59 statements of “one another” within it, pointing out the importance and significance of our relationships with others. We see in Scripture that fellowship with other believers is essential to discipleship. John 13:35 tells us that the world will know that we are Jesus’ disciples by how we love one another.
It is true that we’re called to minister to and love those around us that do not know Jesus, but it’s important to note that this commandment directs us first to love those within His family, which can actually be one of the hardest things to do. And we are called to be a community that loves one another. Thinking about loving everyone at church might seem daunting to you. And then to broaden the horizon, thinking about loving other followers of Christ that you don’t see regularly may seem even more daunting. So I appreciated how Pastor Jeremy helped us narrow it down. We can all agree from this passage that in a broad sense, “God is calling you to love people.” But try replacing “people” with actual people by name. Think of a person in the church that’s easy to love, or who loves you well. God is calling you to love that person. Then think of a person in the church that’s difficult to love. God is calling you to love even that person.
Now in order for us to love others as He has loved us, I encourage you to take time to think about how God has loves you–turn to Scripture (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Colossians 3:12-17, John 15:12-17, etc.) & think of past experiences as well. As Pastor Jeremy pointed out, loving others is rooted in Jesus–As our Savior, he demonstrated God’s love (Romans 5:6-10), is our love (1 John 4:7-21) & gives us the way to love others (1 John 4:19). Only by knowing the love of God can we properly love those around us. The Gospel is what produces love within us so that we can love others with the love of Christ. God’s grace goes into our hearts & undoes the selfishness within, replacing it with His selfless love.
As we continue to move forward in our 2021 theme of “Come, Follow Me”, I’m calling and challenging us to again be honest–this time about our relationships with others, and how we are following Jesus’ call to love one another as He has loved us. Take a moment to reflect on your relationships with other believers (both at SGPC and not). Especially think of those who you find difficult to love–perhaps due to personality, past hurt or experiences, etc. Consider what is making it difficult to love that person, and bring it up to the Lord. This week, I invite you to come before the Lord in prayer and ask Him to reveal to you those who He may be calling you to love… I invite you to ask the question:
Who are you calling me to love, as I follow after You?
If you’d like some direction in prayer, perhaps try the following:
- Begin your prayer acknowledging God & thanking Him for Who He is and what He has done.
- Ask Him to reveal to you those He is calling you to love, especially those hard to love.
- Be truthful in what makes it difficult to love that person. (ex: “I struggle to love them because _____”)
- Then ask Him to help you love that person as He has loved you. (ex: “Lord, help me to love _______ as You have loved me.”) Be specific. Perhaps it’s with patience, with kindness, or with forgiveness, reconciliation, etc. And if you don’t know, simply ask Him to soften your heart to understand. Lay it at the feet of the Lord. It will be a pro
- Ask God to speak into those thoughts, remind you of His love for you & ask for the Holy Spirit to work in your heart & remind you of His Truth.
As we dig into our 2021 theme, “Come, Follow Me”, I pray that our hearts would be softened, and that we will press into Jesus’ call for us to love one another. I encourage you to confide in a trusted brother or sister in Christ over what He reveals to you today!
Hungry for more?
We encourage you to feast on the word of God. If you’ve got some resources on your bookshelf, dig in! If you’re looking for more translations, resources, and devotional guides, try any of the following links or search for more online.
Create an atmosphere to encounter God
During this historical time, we’ve been collecting songs along the way. You can find the playlists on SGPC’s Spotify profile (requires a free Spotify account). Listen to old favorites and discover new songs of the season! Spring off into some of the suggestions generated by Spotify or search for your own go-to songs. These also work well as background music for studying scripture (or anything else).