A New Commandment
What a change, what an adjustment who ever you are.
The last few months has been turmoil for the UK on many levels, that turmoil is not over yet, new challenges arrive daily. 31st January we will face the challenge of addressing our departure from Europe with its implications which are so far reaching, now the negotiations begin. As the world changes around us, a virus threat infecting the world from one city in China, following invasion through the interconnected airways, every country in search mode and cities in China in lockdown. What can we learn in the meantime, 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. We are learning about power, whether right or wrong as a president is going through an impeachment process. We are learning who are servant leaders and who are power dominant. South Africa was once an influence in Africa, today South African Airways is in melt down and cancelling flights as it cannot meet its budget, the airline is collapsing and the counties banking institutions may follow this week into junk status. What are we learning, what am I learning through it all. Knife crime is at its highest ever, in a spiralling down trend in British cities, more gun deaths than ever and shootings in schools, gang violence and murders what am I learning, how should I respond?
Perhaps we can learn the sacrifice of true Leadsrhip in finding men and women who are sacrificial and will demonstrate Chirsts’ servant Leadsrhip, willing to pour out self for the sake of another. Rather than feeding ego on power, or amassing wealth which is on the obscene level while countries are broke. Living preferring one another, cultivating a love society, I wonder what that looks like.
in John 13:34–35 Jesus gives us a New Commandmentbut it is 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 it is much more about outlining a distinctive mark of a community, it is much more about a NEW way to live together. I have noticedsome 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.
John’s writings (1 John) we are introduced to a confusing state of affairs for people affecting that community at large, it outlines 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 been made long ago, words spoken, hearts committed towards establishing a healthy life, words outlining conduct for the better of all peoples, these are crucial to perceiving the significance of the order of life.
John 13 indicates 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.
Where we began our journey captures an arrival of 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.
(1 John 3:1-18) We are expected to love one another as we have been loved, adopted, accepted as the family of God – Community to form and build based on love.
LOVE ONE ANOTHER