~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is a summary a sermon by Brad Ettore. You can read the whole sermon, Learning to Walk in God’s Love, by clicking here.
We have been given one commandment and we have been given one commission. In John 13:34, Jesus said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Jesus gave us one commandment: that we would love one another in the same way that He has loved us. Jesus also gave us one commission which we hear in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Jesus commissioned us to share our faith with people throughout the world: to lead them to the Lord and to disciple them.
If we have but one commandment from the Lord, does it not stand to reason that we should be focused on it and vigilant about doing that commandment? Of course it would be! We are commanded by our Lord to love one another in the same way that He loved us and the standard or metric for our love is the love with which Jesus loved us. As you read this message allow it make the target clear. Once we have a clear target, we can talk about how to get there.
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (v. 35) Our love is the signpost for the world to know Jesus! We tend to think that having a really good speaker, a great worship band, or a nice building are the signpost for Christ to the world. We tend to think that doing good works or feeding the poor will be a signpost to the world. All of those things are good, BUT the Lord told us that none of those things will actually tell the world that we are of Him. There is only one thing about which Jesus says “by this the world will recognize that you are of Me.” Our love for one another is God’s signpost to the world. For example, one of the reasons Ravi Zacharias’ ministry is so effective is because he delivers his wonderful thoughts and teachings in awesome love – every time! He never gets offended – he just loves people.
Loving people is being like God. Consider this simple question: What is the one thing that the Father is always doing with everyone on the planet? He is loving them. As children of God, the majority of us are a little confused on this point. We think God is actually angry with the majority of the world. And if we think that God has animosity towards a person, we may feel justified or that we are in line with God if we share in that perceived animosity. We feel very right in hating evil. The trouble is we do not differentiate between the sin (the evil act) and the person held hostage by it. We have the phrase “hate sin and love the sinner.” That is RIGHT, but do we really do it?!? It is right that we should hate evil and know that sinful lifestyles are not of God, that it is evil, and that God hates it. But we are wrong if we conclude ANY animosity towards the person!
But why is that? How could God not have animosity towards them? They are living a lifestyle in direct opposition to God after all. The answer is that God has already punished their sin! God is a just judge. He has judged sin once in the body of His Son. God would be unjust today if He judged a sinner for their sin. God already judged (condemned) sin in the flesh of His Son Jesus. It has been said that we should not be surprised that we have been made righteous, but instead in awe of the fact that Christ became sin for us. Justice for all of man’s sin for all time was served when Jesus bore the punishment for it on the Cross.
Now if someone really preached this strongly, you would be apt to think “well does that mean everybody’s saved?” No not everyone is saved – because the Word of God makes it clear in many that while God has already forgiven the sin debt of all people, they have to CHOOSE to receive that gift. The world is just one step away from all the blessings of God in their life – and that is to receive salvation. But the fact remains that God has already forgiven them. Therefore, God is not angry with them any more (see Isa 54) and we have been given a ministry of reconciliation (not judgment) begging everyone to be reconciled to God! (see 2 Cor. 5)
Therefore, if when we are talking with someone who is living in sin, and we find ourselves having anything but love towards them, we are no longer in agreement with the Father. In that moment, we have just become God’s enemy. We have entered into disagreement with the Calvary ruling from the Courts of Heaven. Look at Jesus – How did He respond with sinners? He walked with them, loved them, and embraced them. This doesn’t mean that Jesus doesn’t call out sin. He does call out sin. He told the woman caught in the very act of adultery to “go and sin no more” after he made it clear to her that He did not come to condemn her. But do you think she felt judged and rebuked by Him? No! She wanted to hug Him and kiss His feet because she felt totally loved by Him! Our success in leading people to Christ, will always be commensurate with the love that we have for people.
Now, why did Jesus call what he shared in Jn. 13 a new commandment? At the Last Supper, Jesus said “here’s a new covenant” and then in that same meeting with them, He said here’s “a new commandment.” “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Like with Moses in Exodus 34, this is the commandment that goes with the a covenant! Only in the New Covenant, there is only one command – there are not ten. The reason for that is because this one commandment takes care of all ten! “Love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Rom. 13) This it the New Covenant and it is based on one single commandment and that is to love!
If we loved each other like Christ loved us, everyone would see that love and they would stop saying “if God is a God of love …” The world is supposed to know God through us! We are the hands and feet of Jesus in the earth. We are the face of God in the earth. He’s not here. But God’s Spirit is here. God Himself is here in us. If we would love like He loves, the world would see it and they would come to Him … just like they came to Jesus in droves! Not everyone will come to Jesus of course, but those who have a heart for God – those that can be attracted to the things of God – would be attracted to us.
Some people say that they love God but they can’t stand the church. But God says that if you don’t love your brother, you don’t love Me! You cannot love parents and hate their children. This is why God says that if you don’t love your brother (My child), you don’t love Me! If you love others you will know God! It is actually in loving others that we first love God and experience God. When you love the people God has made, you love Him!
If you want to have the greatest relationship with God, the greatest joy, the fullness of God in your life, you can do it by loving other people! You are going to know Jesus’ love when you love other people. You have to be rooted and grounded in love. That is the precursor that allows you to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge. When you love other people you will be able to then comprehend the love of God! But how does that work? When you love other people with agape love – with selfless love that flows form the Spirit of Christ in you – that agape love literally comes out of your Spirit to help the other person … and guess what happens as it passes from your Spirit through your soul and out of your body? You are experiencing that agape love!!! And, as a result, you get to know that agape love “oh, that’s the love of God! Wow! That’s the love of God – that’s awesome!” You begin to comprehend the love of God and as a result you enter into the fullness of God! Loving others is how we get there!
If you keep His commands, your joy will be full. And what is His command? That we love one another! So if we love others, what will happen? Our joy will be full! What if someone is reprobate of a person? Remember this: God is the judge of the earth! That means that judgment is off of our backs! Throw off judgment – it is none of our business! It’s taken care of – God’s got it! All we have to do is love! It’s total freedom! Judgment is bondage because the minute we judge, we feel God’s grace leave. His grace isn’t on that. But when you stay in love, His grace is all over it. It’s total freedom. Just love! And when we love, the other person feels loved and now they’re blessed. All the while we get to experience God’s love coming out of us and therefore we’re blessed as well! Through this process we get to know God’s love and we realize “wow God – that’s You! I know You better than ever! Wow, you’re awesome; I love Your love!” It’s just blessing, blessing, blessing and your joy goes through the roof! May we be a people of love!