Yet, when I ask most Christians - including ministers - what that commandment is, very few, if any, know what it is and its exact wording. Some people guess it is “…love your neighbour as you love yourself…”, but alas, that is not Jesus new commandment, but part of a summation from Jesus of the old testament laws.
I suppose that this is a good indication that Christians are more hung up on teaching and learning the old testament laws than they are with teaching grace - and Jesus NEW commandment.
So what is this new commandment?
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” ~ John 13:34
This new type of love is quite different from “…love your neighbour as you love yourself…”. It is a sacrificial love, where as “…love your neighbour as you love yourself…” does not require a sacrifice, and assumes that one first loves themselves. It is calling us to a higher standard of love than was outlined in the old testament. In fact, Jesus preached that living by the Spirit required us go beyond the law.
“You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” ~ Matthew 5:27-28
So, if Jesus only gave us one commandment, surely we should obey that above all else? We should be fervently praying about it, focus a good 80% of our sermons on it and have conferences, courses, and bible colleges dedicated to teaching it - yes?
Nope! We teach the law, we teach prophesy, we teach blessings and curses from the law, we teach tithing, we teach ‘the Kingdom’ - with many various interpretations of that, we teach bible history, and we teach and preach the great commission.
If ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8), then should we not, above all else, try and emulate God’s character, nature and very being? Was this not what Jesus one and only commandment was trying to teach us was the MOST important aspect of the gospel? Love!
Why are we so very concerned with tithing that we would commit a good portion of every Sunday service teaching it, yet we spend no time at all teaching Jesus’ one and only commandment? Why do we spend so much time rebuking our people for not obeying the law (i.e. for sinning), yet we will almost never exhort them to love? And when we do finally broach the subject of love, we simply give them a summary of the old testament laws?
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” ~ Mark 12:28-31
Maybe the issues we face today as churches and as the Body of Christ boils down to this one thing - we have forgotten what Jesus commanded us to do. Instead we are so busy condemning and judging others that we are reaping the fruit of our ‘giving’:
“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” ~ Luke 6:37-38
Or, as I like to paraphrase it:
Do not judge and condemn others: for the amount of derision and scorn that you pour out will come back to you, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured, like a never ending flow of spiritual sewerage, into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ~ Luke 6:37-38 (Paraphrased)
If you believe that the gospel is about anything else other than love - ask yourself, “What was the one and only thing Jesus commanded us to do?”
Let’s get back to the basics - yes? And, of course, “…faith without works is dead…” (James 2:14-26). It is time Christians became lovers - not haters!