In this week when the Irish global super-band U2 are in town, I thought it was worth reflecting on the way I have seen you loving each other over the last ten years. U2 have more than a dozen songs that feature love. We have more than 700 people whose lives feature love, which has been delightfully encouraging.
Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35) These are remarkable words – it sounds like Jesus is suggesting the need to love one another was a new idea! But there were commandments in the Old Testament encouraging Israel to love others. So what is going on?
What was new here is the kind of love – note what Jesus says: this love is “as I loved you.” It is a love that originates and mirrors the sacrificial love of Christ. In Christ’s death something new happened, a new type of love was on display and this sacrificial love is to be replicated and displayed by us. Marvellously, when we do show this love, other people will recognise us as disciples of Jesus. If we love one another with Christlike sacrificial love, others will see Christ.
I have seen Christ’s love in the love that has been shown around our church and it has been spectacular. Let me share some examples.
The Wednesday Church crew are 30-40 faithful mature folks who know each other and love each other. They often chase people up, they know what is going on in each other’s lives and they visit each other when they are sick. They are not selfish with their time but use it for the benefit of others and warmly welcome new people into the fold.
There are a number of multi-generational families in our church who show sacrificial love across the generations. I see grandparents chasing grandchildren after church; I see sons-in-law offering to help at the homes of grandparents; I see the generations encouraging each other to follow Christ. I suppose that is what should happen in families, but it often doesn’t and I think you can look at these families and know they are Christ’s disciples.
Time and time again I hear good news stories out of Growth Groups as people put themselves out for each other to care for each other and show love to each other. Our Growth Groups are a critically important hub for love and care and knowledge of each other and I have loved every one I have been in.
And then I look around after our services and see people praying together, laughing together, crying together and growing together – not looking to serve themselves but looking to love others sacrificially and to see them grow. It’s often the simple, normal things that are most encouraging!
I could go on and on. I pray that you love for each other does just that into the future!