“As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35
Clutching his blanket, and with unusual determination in his voice, Linus announced to Lucy that he had finally discovered his calling in life. He was going to be a doctor. Lucy, the ever-intimidating big sister, countered that there was no way he could be a doctor because, as she said, he hated mankind. Stung by her objection, Linus shot back that she really didn’t get it. He loved mankind. It was people that he couldn’t stand.
All of us can identify with Linus’ distinction. Mankind is a phenomenal thing. It’s those people who budge in line at the grocery store, drive under the speed limit, and cancel repeatedly at the last minute who really push our buttons.
Let’s face it: people can be a problem! One minute we’re laughing, joking, and doing life together, and the next minute they turn on us. We get a little shell-shocked when someone who brings us delight one second, disappoints us the next. After all, why can’t people be nicer to us—or, better yet, just like us?
Given what “one anothers” can be like, it’s far more comfortable to get in a holy huddle and surround ourselves with a few close friends who are nice to us, who tell us what we want to hear, and who share all the same opinions and prejudices that we do. Everybody else can take a number and wait until we’re ready to brave the elements of “people world” and reach out again.
But while it may feel good in the huddle, I can assure you that Jesus is not pleased with that. Where would you be today if He had stayed in His heavenly huddle and refused to come and mix it up with broken, unrewarding, selfish, and fickle people like you and me? When He said to the disciples in John 13:34 that they should love each other as He had loved them, it was an all-encompassing love—in spite of some pretty weird and irritating things about the disciples. Peter was always shooting off at the mouth. Thomas was doubting and skeptical. Judas would betray him. John’s temper earned him the nickname “Son of Thunder.” And all of them were constantly plotting and arguing about who would be the greatest. Weren’t they listening? They never seemed to get what Jesus was teaching them about servanthood, suffering, and humility. But Jesus loved them still. Which only goes to prove that you don’t need to like some things about people before you love them. In fact, their weirdness may actually be a clue to the needs in their lives.
So, how did Jesus love His followers?
Jesus loved the disciples with the resources of His presence, time, talents, teaching, attention, power, and patience. Ultimately He would die for them to meet their deepest need. So I need to ask you, what’s in your bag of resources that you could use to meet a “one another’s” need? Don’t start with mankind. That would be a hopeless task. Choose just one person to start loving—particularly someone who is not like you and who isn’t in your huddle. Pick up the phone, jot a note, lend a listening ear, write a cheque, invite them to lunch, include them in your next dinner party, stick up for them—and don’t expect anything in return.
After all, if Jesus’ love for you took Him all the way to the cross, then loving others is the least you can do to show the world that you are His follower!
This passage first appeared in “Strength for the Journey with Joe Stowell” (www.getmorestrength.org)