The most important message in the Bible is the story of God’s love for humanity. Jesus was the picture of that love as He gave His sinless life to pay the penalty for our sins and purchase for us a place in heaven. However, this is not a new concept for those reading a publication called the Cross Reference or for most of Bay County for that matter. Do not misunderstand; Bay County is a mission field. But I believe that there is a huge population of professing Christians in Bay County, some who attend Christian churches and many who do not. Thus, if this were the last sermon I was to ever preach, it would be a heart to heart talk with fellow believers from John 13:34-35. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
There are really only two categories of people in Bay County. There are those that are professed disciples of Jesus Christ, and those that are not. Now let us assume that you are a disciple (remember you are reading the Cross Reference). In the verses above Jesus said that the world will know you are my disciples “if you love one another.”
Surely you have heard the story of the Good Samaritan where Jesus taught His disciples how to love their neighbors. Jesus’ definition of neighbor included all people everywhere. But in John 13:34-35 Jesus says this is a “new command.” This command is for disciples to love other disciples as Jesus loved them. These were teachable moments between Jesus and His disciples, and He knew that His disciples, like disciples today, were prone to endless conflict about selfish matters with each other.
So what does this command mean then to you and me? It means that Christians (aka disciples of Jesus) are to love each other unconditionally. Perhaps a change in perspective would help. In reality the mandate of every Christian is to make disciples. And the call of every church is to make disciples. So as a believer your mission is the same as every disciple. The mission of your church is the same as every church. All who are under the banner of Jesus Christ alone for salvation, by grace, and through faith in Him are on the same team. Each person and church should be seeking to share the Good News with those who have not yet professed faith in Christ. When we do not love each other, it is a huge obstacle between the message of Jesus Christ and the many that do not profess faith in Christ. In addition many of those that do profess Christ but are not active in a local church will tell you it is because of some conflict with a Christian or a particular church.
Jesus’ message is simple, but difficult to live out. Some disciples are harder to love than others. Some disciples do not play well with others. Some disciples are strange. We all are some days. Jesus’ words are clear, undeniable, and without caveat. Disciples are to love each other. Our goal is worthy, our message is true, and our mission is one. So to Jesus’ disciples in Bay County, LOVE ONE ANOTHER!