A New Commandment
What a change, what an adjustment who ever you are. The last week has been a week of turmoil for the UK on many levels and that turmoil continues. We have the challenge of addressing a departure from Europe with its implications which are so far reaching. We have experienced a period when a country’s leadership dissolves before your the eyes on the public vote, people power, democracy? As the world changes around us what can we learn and what can we hold on to, what can we take from the tumultuous times we live in that will school us for world impact. I am so surprised that a small nation as Britain has such far reaching effects economically with markets and currencies being affected in far places world wide. We are learning, I suggest that a little country can have an impact in far places not just locally, London or UK in this case.
in John 13:34–35 Jesus gives us a New Commandment but its not really new, as at least in Deuteronomy and Leviticus we are told to love one another and to love God, are we not?
So whats NEW about it?
I would suggest its much more about outlining a distinctive mark of a community, its much more about a NEW way to live together. I have noticed some bible interpreters pass comment that the verse is out of sink with the flow of the passage, with Jesus talking about his departure. A time of turmoil about to arrive for the followers, the disciples.
34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another
The verse is really highly important and is focused in the turmoil to come on the community that Jesus will establish as a result of his departure.
The community in its distinctive quality was to be marked by a new commandment. Turmoil needs some marks on it, needs some signposts that anchors life and prevents spinning. In the establishment of communities, one of the principle factors of success is the establishing of boundaries for action. These are based on community or national covenants, whether stated or unstated. Behind every way forward there must be covenants that hold, direct us, this is absolutely crucial.
When societies go through transitions by a change of direction nationally, the influx of people, or changes in economic or social structures, the underlying covenants are often disregarded and the society is thrown into confusion.
Later in John’s writings (1 John) we are introduced to a confusing state of affairs for people affecting that community at large, it out lines the departure for a covenant made and oath taking towards new theologies, so called, it only goes to enforce the need of understanding underlying covenants that have bene made long ago, words spend an hearts committed towards establishing healthy life, words outlining conduct for the better of all peoples, these are crucial to perceiving the significance of the order of life.
Returning to John 13 here is a covenant that undergirds community building, its formation and establishment “love one another“, but it goes beyond that to indicate that to love one another is to display, to be an example of God, love as foundation to every distrusted moment, to all turbulent times is an indication of where and to who we belong.
So Brexit – market runaways – change of political structure – Love one another – be and form community. Return to covenant that undergirds us all, and of course continue in this way of Love and Covenant do not depart from it.
Love one another – that all men will know you are my disciples
To make this “love one another” impactive it must have content as we cannot make people love one another can we? The context that enables this love is the realisation that the “I have loved you” of Christ. Christ has loved us fully unrestrained, unreserved, it transforms you? People have the right to ask “why should I love others” for with out a realisation of their loved condition it is challenging, firstly seeing that I/ we are loved is essential.
We can try and legalise the need of loving one another, we can even achieve a legalising of mutual respect but we will not make people love one another without realisation and accepting the self-giving love of God for the World, the covenant love displayed in and through Christ. The acceptance of God’s self-giving love for the people of the world, including each one of us as recipients of that love (3:16), and the obedient response in a derivative love enables “all people” to recognise the accepter as a disciple of Jesus. This way of loving one another is not to be interpreted exclusively as my little in-group instead, it was to be understood as breathtakingly explosive of old relationships and old patterns of obedience in the way it was pointedly presented in the Sermon on the Mount.
The two verses from where we began our journey today encapsulate the coming of the new era and the new community.
This new community, is the continuing intention in the Old Testament, God calling out a people who are to be recognised by their love for God (Deut. 6:4–5) and their love of neighbour (Lev 19:18) just as Jesus spelled out his model in the Sermon on the Mount.
John writes (1 John 3:1-18) that we are expected to love one another as we have been loved, adopted, accepted as the family of God – Community to form, build and be established based on love.