Weekly Devotion & Prayer- May 9, 2022

Jesus said to his disciples: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) 

I’ve often wondered why Jesus is recorded as saying “I give you a new commandment.” What’s new about loving one another? Pondering this, I realize that the heritage in scripture of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” (Leviticus24:20) was overturned by Jesus when he said, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) And “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31) These are two examples of the challenging and inspiring vision that Jesus taught, inviting us to expand the circle of who we care for and how we care for them. Then there is this “new” commandment. Love one another. 

Love one another “as I have loved you” – aha! The love of Jesus. A love which offers everything to God and through God. A love which gives and serves without question. A love which, in response to the greatest insults, the most demeaning treatment, the most painful punishment, the most definitive death and entombment – “retaliates” with prayers of understanding and forgiveness, with the tombstone rolled away, with the grave of death empty, with the radical love of Jesus Christ – a love of blessing, grace and hope of life redeemed, renewed, and resurrected. 

This love of Jesus is not a simple, easy love. Jesus called people to accountability often, with compassion and love. Jesus argued and challenged people who oppressed and violated others with systems of power and dominance. Jesus ate with both disciples and sinners, healed people considered unclean, forgave people judged as unforgiveable, opened his heart and life to God’s munificent, lavish, extravagant love by loving his disciples – and his adversaries – to show and teach us how we are to love one another in radical, life-transforming acts of justice and mercy. 

Two thousand years later, we are still in need of this message. Where people are marginalized and dispossessed… love one another. Where people seek safety and comfort for themselves without regard for the safety and comfort of others… love one another. Where individuals and nations provoke and incite violence and war… love one another. Where we feel frustrated and overwhelmed and helpless and afraid, because of all the chaos and uncertainty… love one another. Radical, Christ-like love. Love that accepts people for who they are and which challenges and works to change the destructive systems and institutions around us. Love that expands the circle to the point where there are no “others.” We are called to learn and grow to where we live in a world where we only see the “one anothers” Jesus teaches us to love, even as Jesus loves us. Grace upon grace. Justice upon justice. Redemption upon redemption. Radical, life-changing love upon radical life-changing love. Love one another. 

Redeeming, renewing, resurrecting God, continue to guide us, even when we are exhausted, even when our fears overwhelm us, even when we struggle to see your presence. Help us to experience your great and radical love which infuses us with your Spirit of grace and hope. Open our hearts and minds and arms, so that each and every person we meet, each and every situation we encounter, we can live your love so fully that others discover you in our actions. We pray in the name of the One who taught us how to live and love, Jesus the Christ. Amen and Alleluia.