Love one another. This is not just a Christian cliché, these are the words of Jesus. Not just any words either; these are some of the last words Jesus spoke to his disciples before his death. In John 13: 34-35 we read, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
As pastors, we are in the business of preaching. Preaching is necessarily imperative. A sermon without an imperative application is incomplete. Our sermons are often filled with commands to share the good news, to turn from sin, to love our neighbor.
In the politically charged atmosphere of the past few months, I’m certain that many sermons have discussed the necessity of believers to be holy and different from the world. But, Jesus did not say that the world would know his disciples by their evangelistic zeal, their cultural engagement, or even their care for the poor. All of these things are important, but according to Jesus, it was their love for each other that would set the disciples apart before the world.
Pastor, love your church and urge your church to love each other. Teach them about love and model love before them. Show them what biblical love looks like lived out within the local church. Love through forgiving, correcting, and rebuking (Luke 17:3). Deprive yourself of sleep to care for your brothers and sisters. Fellowship with church members, show extravagant hospitality in your home, and urge others to do the same.
According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 13, without love we are “a sounding gong or a clanging symbol.”
Preach the gospel and stress evangelism and missions but do not neglect to urge your church to love each other.
Preach the Word and then watch as the love for one another within the church empowers the proclamation of the gospel.
Watch non-believers be blown away not only by the good news of the gospel, but by seeing it lived out among your church members.
Love one another.
It is not only a good idea, it is an imperative command from Jesus, and when we obey it, the world will know that we belong to him.