Jesus wants the world to see something different in His followers. This is why He tells His disciples to love one another.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35)
John Chapters 13-17 records the last instructions and prayers of Jesus for His disciples during and after the Passover meal, before He was betrayed, handed over to the authorities and crucified. In this hyper-attentive moment, Jesus says he has a new command for the disciples. To love one another.
This isn’t the first time the disciples have heard about loving one another. It is one of the 2 greatest commandments.
But in this instance, Jesus is adding a detail. Loving one another will be the sign to the world that we are His disciples.
Disciples Truly Love One Another
Other faiths and even sects and denominations within Christianity argue, accuse, separate, and even go to actual war and kill in the name of their view of their beliefs.
You may have heard someone say before that “more people have killed in the name of God or religion” than any other way. While this is used as an accusation and an excuse for not following Jesus Christ, there is also a kernel of truth behind it. The scale or the authenticity of the perpetrators can be argued. Still, it is undeniable that throughout history false disciples have committed terrible acts. All while claiming to represent Jesus Christ.
Maybe that’s why this seemingly straightforward sign of who is a disciple of Jesus Christ has an aspect of the miraculous. When we see individuals or groups of people reach across any number of dividing lines and love each other unconditionally, it is baffling to the world.
There could be a thousand reasons why Jesus called out loving one another as the sign to the world, but think about this one for a moment; genuine, abiding love cannot be faked. Eventually, the crowd will be separated from the true disciples. Because the kind of love Jesus calls us to is only achievable by His true disciples who abide with Him.
Seek Out Disciples to Love
One thing we can infer from this command is that to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, we must seek out fellow disciples to share life with. It may be easy to assume this means go join a church. While that may be the route we are led, our pursuit doesn’t end there. It is important to seek out relationships with authentic believers who can help us grow, hold us accountable, and provide the love Christ commands.
If we are living the life of a disciple, we should keep an awareness of coming across fellow disciples in every area of our lives – our families, occupations, hobbies, organizations, and regular places we attend or frequent.
This doesn’t have to be a solo effort; find some fellow disciples who can help guide us to authentic, Spirit-led places of corporate worship and more true disciples.
One word of caution; we need to be sober-minded and vigilant when seeking out fellowships of believers. It should be a safe place, but we cannot assume everyone there is a disciple of Jesus Christ. In fact, some may be there purposefully looking to lead others astray. We should strive to distinguish fellow disciples by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-22).
Once we have found true disciples, we should do what we can to support and learn from them. Most importantly, we should love them in such a way that honors Christ and provides evidence to others that we are His disciples. This includes forgiving them and lovingly confronting them when necessary.
Be prepared to do some legwork to find true disciples. You will know when you find them, because true disciples of Jesus Christ love one another.
Here are some more Bible verses about loving one another:
Proverbs 17:17; Matthew 5:16; Acts 2:42-46; Romans 12:6-13; Galatians 6:10; Hebrews 10:23-25; 1 John 3:16-18