“A new commandment I give you; Love one another, as I have loved you.”
At the very heart of belonging to the church of Jesus Christ there is this supreme principle. We are to love one another, in just the same selfless sacrificial way that Christ first loved us. This, says Jesus, is how the world will know that we are His disciples. This, says the apostle John, is how we can be sure that we are truly Christians, because we love one another (1 John 3:11-20).
This love will show itself in caring for one another. In a world full of loneliness and boredom, Christians should shine out as examples of true friends. We will meet together to spur one another on and encourage each other in our Christians lives (Hebrews 10:24-25). We will show that we care by the quality of our hospitality (Romans 12:13).
True love will lead to sharing together, meeting each other’s needs in practical and material ways. This is our responsibility to each other as members of the church (James 2:15-17).
Then there will be times when love means bearing one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). These may be the big crises of bereavement, debt, family breakdown, redundancy, illness or loss of faith. We can learn how to help by bearing the everyday burdens: the pressures of family life with small children; the loneliness of being trapped without transport; the demands of many jobs and the daily battle against temptation.
I am very excited about 2013. As well as doing “new things” in our church I believe God is going to do great things throughout our town. But He’s not doing going to do them through great evangelistic services or visitation campaigns, but by believing, praying, worshipping Christians who show the world a better way to live, by caring, sharing and bearing, each other’s burdens, who really do love one another as Christ has loved us.