I remember hearing a sad lament from a deacon, recently appointed to deacon ministry. When this eager new deacon asked a friend in church to go for coffee, the friend got suspicious and asked, “Are you asking because you’re my friend or because you’re a deacon?”
Love one another. This is the command Jesus gave throughout the gospels. Jesus modeled how to love others and as followers of Christ. We should do the same. Jesus stated love for one another as a part of the greatest commandment (Matt. 22:39). Loving others is what marks the life of a true disciple of Christ.
Love For God, Love For Others
You will notice that I did not touch on the first part of the greatest commandment: To love God (Matt. 22:37-38). That is because I wanted to expand on that a bit more. Love for God is essential if we truly want to love others.God has loved us with an everlasting love. He sent His one and only Son to die for us (John 3:16). His one and only! If that doesn’t show the magnitude of God’s love for us I don’t know what else does.
If I had an only son and had to give him up for the lives of total strangers I don’t think I could do that. Because He loved us so much we should in turn love and devote ourselves to Him. Our devotion to God is evident in our love for others.
Both loving God and loving others are interchangeable. When we love God we will love others; and when we love others will love God because God loves people. God’s love for people was evident when He sent His Son to die for our sins, and He calls us to follow His example of love (1 John 4:9-11).
How Do We Love? Whom Do We Love?
Jesus’ command to love others means essentially that we should look out for the needs of others.Look out for their needs as we would look out for our own.We should love our neighbour as ourselves. Jesus was asked by an expert in religious law, “And who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29). That’s a good question. How do we know whom we should love?
Jesus answers the man’s question in the following verses by telling The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). On his way from Jerusalem to Jericho a man was attacked by bandits. He was left for dead. People passed him by, a priest and a Levite, a temple assistant. None of them decided to help the man.
Only a “despised” Samaritan felt compassion for him enough to help him. The Scripture doesn’t say the injured man was Jewish. Perhaps that’s part of Jesus’ point: this man could be anyone and he should be helped.
If the injured man was Jewish, the same point is made. Samaritans and Jews in biblical times did not get along. They were at opposite ends of the spectrum and did not associate with one another. But this Samaritan did not think twice.
The Samaritan bandaged the man’s wounds, took the man to an inn on his own donkey, and offered to pay the bill for his stay. The one who was despised—the one from whom he would never imagined getting help—was the one who helped the man when no one else would.
When you wonder whom you should love and how we should love, look back on the Parable of the Good Samaritan. And go and do likewise.
Adam Harris, a certificate graduate of Steinbach Bible College, is connected with Braeside EMC. He lives in Winnipeg.
A publication of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference