Excerpt from Three lessons on loving one another by Jonathan Parnell
Know the New Commandment
The instruction and example from Jesus now becomes a bona fide commandment — a new commandment (John 13:34).
The meaning behind our serving one another is our love for one another. The church loves one another, even in ways deeper than flesh-and-blood family.
This has to be true for my family to make it. Years ago, in a move from one school to another, my wife and I relocated our growing family based on Jesus’s words in Mark 3:35: “Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” We left a loyal home-base that had loved us for years — not to mention an endless supply of free babysitting — to come to a community we didn’t really know. All we did know was that they followed Jesus, and if what Jesus says is true, we would be okay. More practical than anything else I’ve experienced, Jesus’s words have been true. We live where we do primarily because the family of Jesus is a group that loves one another.
And when this happens, Jesus says all people will know that we’re his. Our love for one another is a witness to our identity as the redeemed sons and daughters of God. This is such a brainteaser for those of us who have put a lot of thought into the mission and structure of the local church. So often we tend to think of in-reach and outreach as two different arms of the church, both extending in opposite directions, doing their own thing; but then Jesus comes and says one can’t exist without the other. A church that is “missional,” and wants to make Jesus known in their community, must be a church that loves one another. And a church that is intentional about loving one another can’t help but be a church that makes Jesus known. That’s the way it works.
And that’s how we live together as the church in this world: we go against the grain of societal expectations, we help one another when it hurts, and we love one another to represent our King.