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 Niv
When looking to have a fresh start and renewing our relationship with Christ we naturally then have to look at the relationships we have with other people. Jesus gave us a guideline by which we are to operate from, in our relationships, with this scripture. I am not sure the disciples could have known the depths to which this scripture would hit. I know when I first heard this verse I thought YES! Lets love one another, lets do it! But when we really look at what God is saying in this scripture, we have to break down what He means when He says love. He is talking about agape love. The word directly translates to love-feast and is meant to fully satiate your hunger and thirst, to define what Christian brotherhood looks like. Couple that with the greek meaning and it is a sacrificial love, one of choice, that is unconcerned with self but of the greatest needs of the other, without expecting anything in return. It's not only how God loves us but part of who He is.
When we think about love, we think about food, or at least I do! We also think of those closest to us, our family. Those that we have dedicated our lives to, or friends we have adopted as family, but sometimes our blood relatives don't always make the list. Brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers, these are the people that we love, but aren't as excited about, or maybe in the monotony of life are overlooked. God looks at everyone the same though and doesn't differentiate those that we should love more or less Mark 3:33-35. Theres a reason God asks us to love one another this way, its because it unlocks a level of richness to our lives that we cannot achieve if not for this love. Its a way of life that brings life to those around us. When we can love our family, and most times hardest people in our lives to love, this way, we bring love to the forefront and expand our reach. "If I speak human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." 1 Cor 13:1 We also become someone people want to listen to, someone people respect and honor. Loving with agape love will transcend your behavior and mindset, it will enable you to exude Jesus wherever you go. Thats because loving with an agape love is looking at people JUST the way they are and loving them ANYWAY. Seeing them fully and not just accepting them but loving them completely. When I think of being loved like that I feel safe, filled with joy and free to be myself without repercussion. By loving others like this we are giving them the tiniest taste of what a loving Jesus has to offer, because we all know that He does it, SO much BETTER.
This new and higher commandment is the one that will change all of your relationships for the better. It will allow stagnant relationships to blossom, old ones to become new, and tired ones to pass away with grace. When we are looking through the lens of love we are really looking at everyone around us through the eyes of God. We can see people and encourage, or listen and uplift from a genuine place of care that isn't tainted by frustration, impatience or anger. God knows that we need this love to be the center of our relationships so they can be successful and thrive. Thats because God IS love. What gives us the fuel to love is being continuously and purposefully filled with the love of God. Being intentional to take the time to fill your cup with His love, will give you the capacity to overflow that love wherever you go. You need to tap into the source to give you the energy to power your actions, otherwise they are empty.
'And I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to me,' says the Lord Almighty, 2 corinthians 6:18. Our God has grafted us into His family as His sons and daughters. He chose us, continues to choose us and would choose us over and over again. We are the apple of His eye, His adored princess , His cherished bride, His beloved. He lavishes us with so much love, and Jesus is the culmination of that love.
I will say in my own life my relationships have gotten so much better as I have started adopting this love into the way I move through life. My family is sometimes the last to see the fruit of my relationship with God because it's hard to be vulnerable with people that can see you so clearly. One of the things I have to bear in mind at all times is that I have chosen to love God and live for Him. With that comes an expectation from those around me to behave a certain way, they see Christ when they see me, good or bad I am a representation of Him. The people that I have chosen to love have not always made that distinction. They may be at a crossroads or perhaps are still deciding to believe. Still, they could love Jesus but haven't arrived at the I want to live for Him place. Therefore my expectations of them shouldn't be the same ones I have for myself. As a Christian we let the old things die away, let go of old mindsets and behaviors as God renews our minds. Our loved ones are not always in that same place and thats ok. This is why agape love is so powerful, it says 'I love you where you are at and where you are at is ok. Im here for you and want to walk with you to a better place, at your own pace.' God gives us abundant grace to do this for the people He places around us, because His heart yearns for theirs, He gives us the perfect example of how to do this in Him. He honors us by giving us the grace to do His will.
I want to encourage you to take the time to evaluate the relationships you have with your family. Make a note of the people God is showing you He wants to transform your relationship with, or take to a higher level. With God all things are possible and with His love you will always succeed.