How many of us want to be disciples of Jesus?
How many of us want to be holy?
What is it that makes us holy?
Holy simply means to be set apart. It means to be different from the rest of the world; to be consecrated and dedicated to God.
What is it that makes us known as disciples of Jesus Christ?
Watch the message below, or you can also read it by scrolling down.
“By this everyone will know you are My disciples – if you love one another”John 13:35
Notice how it does not say, “by this everyone will know you are My disciples – if you know your Bible better than anyone else”, or “if you go to church more than anyone else.”
While these are so important, the Bible constantly focuses on loving one another primarily, because that is the characteristic of God.
Jesus commands us to love. Now, some of us may wonder how this makes us different from the rest of the world, because the rest of the world loves too.
Here’s how most us define love –
Man loves woman, woman loves man, father and mother love son and daughter, daughter and son love father and mother, I love my dog, my dog loves me, I love my cat, my cat doesn’t care.
I love the people I call ‘friends’. We watch the same TV shows, we hang out all the time.
I love my Church fellowship, because we have a lot in common.
And yet, Jesus looks into that picture and says, “no no no, there is so much more.”
The two main commandments that Jesus gave were
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”Luke 10:27
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength
That means your emotions, your will, your intellect and your energy.
In other words, your feelings, your thoughts, your choices and your actions.
This is hard because we have no idea how to do this.
But the Bible gives us the answer.
“Whoever has my commands and obeys, he is the one who loves Me. He who loves Me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show Myself to him. If anyone loves Me, he will obey my teaching and my Father will love him, and we will make our home with him”John 14:21
We express our love for God through obedience – and delighting in that obedience.
The problem is that many of us read the Bible and say, “okay, this is the command. I will follow it because I have to.”
But if we don’t joyfully obey, eventually, we will stop.
Jonah did that. He tried to disobey, but God forced him to obey, and in the end, the only person who suffered was Jonah. He ended up bitter and angry.
And the promises of obeying God are that we will experience His love.
Now I know God said that He loved us first, but look at the verse above. It also says, “whoever obeys My commands, My Father will love them.”
When we obey God, it seems to be a new dimension, a new revelation of His love that we get to experience.
The verse also says we get a fresh revelation of God through obedience.
Love your neighbour as you love yourself
For a moment, let’s look at the second part of that command – love yourself.
Most of us are excellent at loving ourselves in the ways that don’t matter. We love ourselves physically, and there’s self-indulgence all day long. But when it comes to really REALLY loving ourselves emotionally, we fail.
We can look in the mirror and say, “I don’t like the person I’m saying.” Many of us are angry with ourselves. We consider the words of people greater than the words of God.
When somebody tells us, “you’re useless”, we forget that God has said, “you are beautiful.”
When somebody tells u, “I don’t want you”, God has said, “I want you.”
“You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and in you I take great delight.”
And God’s looking at us and saying, “My dear child, how I love you! I want you to love yourself the way I love you. I want you to look at yourself through my eyes. I wish you would see yourself the way I see you. How precious you are to Me. Remember the price I paid for you, because you were worth it.”
And from that overflow, God calls us to love our neighbours.
I’m guessing if you’re reading this, you know the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Jesus finishes the parable with this question –
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”Luke 10:36
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
To which, Jesus’ response is, “Go and do likewise.”
Who is our neighbour? The one who needs mercy.
The one who isn’t like us, the one who may not do the same things we do. It could be the one who smells bad sometimes, or who annoys us.
Your neighbour is the man outside your house with no food to eat, or the woman sitting next to you going through a struggle.
God steps into this picture and says, “I loved you first. Now go, and love that neighbour.”
“I desire mercy, not sacrifice”Matthew 9:13
Jesus said the above words. He basically says, “I want you to show mercy. I don’t want to see your religion.” (If you’ve ever wondered what God wants, there it is.)
This is what makes us different.
But there is one more command, and perhaps the hardest one – love your enemy
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”Luke 6:27-28
You know who your enemy is. The person who has betrayed you, or annoyed you to your limit. The one who hurt you so bad that you just can’t seem to forgive.
You have that face in your mind.
Think about that person.
The story reminds me of what being a Christian is all about – the way we need to forgive.
If you’re still thinking about that person, your enemy, think about his or her face.
And then think about that person’s body, and then the feet.
Imagine taking a towel, bending down, and washing and kissing those feet.
Jesus did that to Judas just before Judas betrayed Him.
That’s what God says will set us apart. That’s how people will know we belong to Him.
These commands are almost impossible. But the Bible says love is not our fruit. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
We are called simply to surrender, and as we let the Holy Spirit take control and work in us and through us, we start loving God, ourselves, our neighbours and our enemies the right way.
And the world will look on and ask, “what is it that makes them so different? Why do they love like that?”
I can almost imagine the Father looking at us in that moment, smiling, and saying, “because they’re Mine.”