What’s So New About Loving Each Other?
God's command that we love one another is nothing new. In Leviticus 19:18 He commanded his people to love each other, 1500 years before Jesus' incarnation. Jesus had even said that this earlier commandment was second only in importance to the command to love the LORD your God (Matthew 22:39). So, why then did Jesus say he was giving a new command? What is so new about our mandate to love each other?
What's new is the standard behind the love. The old commandment's standard was to love others "as you love yourself." We like to use ourselves as a measurement. After all, we could justify not loving someone else by claiming we don't even like ourselves. So, Jesus elevated the standard. Now, we are to love others as Jesus loves us. That standard can't be manipulated. It's a completely selfless, self-sacrificing, and unconditional love.
Jesus also said that others would know whether or not we follow him based on our love for others (John 13:35). Our church attendance, scripture quoting, tithing, and the myriad other "religious" things we do don't demonstrate our faith. It's our Christ-like love for others that shows we are disciples of Jesus. It's the Samaritan rescuing, leper healing, adulterer forgiving love of Jesus. It's the kind of love that compels us to lay down our very lives, even to rescue those who hate us.
That's not just a new commandment, it's also a new and superior kind of love! Lord knows, this world could use a little more love like this. Two thousand years and counting, and we still haven't figured out how to love like Jesus did. Maybe we ought to try something...well, new!