One time in our Jerusalem congregation (Ahavat Yeshua), the message started with a simple “Bible quiz.” What is the common element in the following verses from John?
John 13:34 – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
John 15:12 – This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
John 15:17 – These things I command you, that you love one another.
I John 3:11 – This is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
I John 3:23 – Believe on the name of His Son Messiah Yeshua and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
I John 4:7 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
I John 4:11 – Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
II John 5 – Not as though I wrote you a new commandment, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.
It’s not too difficult to answer the quiz. Love one another. The challenge is not the theory, but the application. This is the only thing God is really asking of us. Of all the things we do “for God,” only our loving relationships will last for eternity. Everything else will end in this world.
To love we must obey God’s commandments. But we must also enjoy one another. Yeshua decided to suffer on the cross so that He could enjoy a relationship with us forever. The Holy Spirit enjoys playing and having fun with us (Proverbs 8:31).
Yeshua paid the price to pave the way for us to love one another. We offend one another all the time. He took our offenses upon Himself. He bore not only what offends God, but what we do to offend one another. What offends you about your brother – He took that on Himself.
He loves us so much, that He was willing to pay such a price. If He loves us so much, how can we not love one another? Parents are most happy when they see their children loving one another. It makes God happy when we love one another. It causes God pain when we do not love one another.
What holds us back from loving? Pride, honor, lusts, expectations of other people, hurts, disappointments, frustrations, etc. To love we must let go of all those selfish things.
Luke 20:20 – They sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words…
The religious hypocrites did not think they were pretending to be righteous. They thought they were righteous, and that Yeshua was the fake. They were right. Everyone else was wrong. They looked for a single word or reason to disqualify Him.
Many of us are the same way. We are confident that we are right and everyone else is wrong. We notice one mistaken word in others, and that proves to us that we are right and they are wrong. That is a spirit of religious condemnation and criticism.
Religiosity is not whether we use cultural symbols in our worship, but whether we condemn and criticize others for not doing things the way we think is right. In our congregation, people are free to wear a kipah (Jewish head covering) or not. We don’t want anyone to feel forced that he has to wear a head covering (I Corinthians 9:20) or that he is not allowed to (I Corinthians 11:4). Where the Spirit of God is, there is freedom (II Corinthians 3:17).
I Corinthians 12:4-6 – There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. There are different activities but it is the same God who works in all.
Notice the word “different” here used three times. To love others, we have to let them be different. Not in the sense of sin, but of style. We must appreciate that others are different in their gifts, callings and ways of expressing themselves. It is the differences between us that make us interesting and beautiful when working together.