John 13:35 (ESV) … “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Left to ourselves, we seek our own. Movie stars marry movie stars. Doctors seek out doctors. Middle-classers seek out middle-classers. Bikers seek bikers. But when Christ comes, that changes. In the church of Jesus Christ, we discover that the people we love and with whom we fellowship are different from us. The more there is of the love Christ exhorted us to have, a love for one another, the greater will be the diversity within the body of Christ.
The commandment was new because of its object, but also because of its measure. If, thought Christ, we are making friends and loving those whom we never would have before we met Christ, praise God—the love of Christ is working in and through us! The measure of this love is, “as I have loved you.” Here we clearly see the commandradical nature, for while it is admittedly difficult to love your neighbor as yourself (as the old commandment demanded), it is far more difficult to love others as Christ loves them. That is sacrificial love. On this occasion it was defined by Jesus’ dealings with Judas. When Jesus said, “Men, love one another as I have loved you,” the disciples naturally thought of Jesus’ love, his consistency, his washing their feet. But the disciples were at a disadvantage. They could not then know how Jesus was even loving Judas. Though Judas was his enemy, the Savior reached out to him. Within the church if we are to love one another as Jesus loved us, we must reach out in reconciliation, love, and forgiveness to those who are wronging us. And when that is done, it becomes a convincing argument for the gospel.