A new commandment
The gospel of John includes Jesus’ farewell sermon in which He repeatedly urges His disciples to mutual love or brotherly love: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).
This “new commandment” is a question of deeper love than the general love we show our neighbor, of which the Old testament and Jesus also talk of elsewhere in the scriptures. This “new commandment” love embodies itself in the relationship between Jesus and his disciples. For example, this is depicted in Jesus’ grapevine parable: “I am the vine, ye are the branches” (John 15:5). Jesus also says: “Abide in me, and I in you” (John 15:4).
The mutual love of Christians is a result of God’s love: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (1 John 4:7). In Paul’s letters, believers are said to have been born again “by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23). They are encouraged: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Peter 1:22).
The premise for love is the sacrifice that God himself gave in Jesus: “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:14). What follows is that when “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11). Believers are witnesses of this love in their own lives.
The example for the disciple’s mutual love was the greatest possible love that Jesus showed the disciples: “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16).
Love unites believers to form a congregation
The love that is born of the Holy Spirit joins Christians in one congregation. Paul compares the congregation to a human body in which Christ is the head. The congregation is one unit which has many members. In God’s kingdom, mutual brotherly love is also seen in the equality of all believers regardless of nationality, race, social status and gender (Gal. 3:28). According to Paul, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). Believers are God’s traveling nation in one faith, one Spirit and one love.
Mutual love and everyday life
Mutual love also has a place in everyday situations. Love makes us to share the gift we have received from God on behalf of our brother in need: “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17–18).
Apostle Paul taught about sacrificial love in Christian homes and relationships with near ones. To husbands he writes: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (Eph. 5:25–30). To all Christians he says: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” (Rom. 12:10).
Nurturing mutual love
Love is the affect of God’s Spirit and a requirement of remaining with God: “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit” (1 John 4:13). The enemy of souls works to break the connection and love of the Spirit.
Love must be nurtured: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). The New Testament letters show how many rejected the connections of God’s children because of sin. At the same time, they lost the possibility for eternal life.
A part of mutual love is helping a believing brother or sister who has fallen into sin back to freedom so that he or she would not lose their portion in God’s kingdom and the hope of everlasting life. For this, the resurrected Jesus gave His own the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the gospel of the forgiveness of sins. Paul instructs in which spirit to help one who has fallen into sin: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness” (Gal 6:1).
Text: Viljo Juntunen
Source: Ajankohtaista 2015, Suurin on rakkaus
Julkaistu englanninkielisessä numerossa 11.5.2016
Monet suunnitelmat ovat tänä poikkeuksellisena keväänä muuttuneet. Muun muassa perhejuhlien järjestelyjä on pitänyt miettiä uudelleen. Tämä on koskenut myös avioliittoon vihkimisiä. Nyt vihkimisiä on toimitettu niin, että koolla on ollut vain joitakin läheisiä, ja muu juhlaväki on seurannut tilaisuutta ehkä virtuaalisesti. Hääjuhlia on jouduttu siirtämään myöhäisempiin ajankohtiin. Jotkut hääparit ovat siirtäneet tämän vuoksi myös avioitumistaan.