Editor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotional for September 10-11 are written by Pastor Ulysses Wang who are now serving at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco.
Devotional Thought for Today
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’”
Since when did the command to love one another become a “new commandment”? I’m pretty sure I’ve heard this one before: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). In fact, Jesus, when responding to questioning from a lawyer, said, “You shall love the Lord your God with` all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). In His own response He acknowledged the important place that this more-than-thousand-year-old Law maintained. So what then was so new about what Jesus said?
Cutting to the chase, the scholar Sir Edwyn Clement Hoskyns said, “whereas the Old Testament demanded that men should love their neighbours as themselves, the New Law is that they should love the brethren better than themselves, and die for their friends.” In other words, as He usually did, Jesus was upped the ante. “Just as” Jesus laid down His life for His friends, we are to do so as well. This is radical, but more than possible because of the great power available to us through the indwelling Spirit.
During Old Testament times, even loving one’s neighbor as one’s self was impossible – the Law revealed our sin (Romans 7:7). Oftentimes, attempts at obeying the Law became legalistic, a prime example of which can be seen in the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Even though we have the Spirit now, how often do we love like we’re still living under the Old Covenant! Our love can be so legalistic, forced, done out of Christian obligation, but when we love this way we sell short the power of the Spirit. When you dream about a loving community within your church, what do you see? Let us not settle for anonymity in church, or never moving beyond just being acquaintances! Let us not settle for small groups where we don’t share what’s really going on in our lives or don’t care to carry the burdens of another! Let us not give up loving those who seem so difficult to love! We live in an age of extraordinary possibility when it comes to the kind of love that can be experienced because we live in the age of the Spirit. By this love all people will know that we belong to Jesus.
Prayer: God, help me to really love the people in my small group. Help me to feel compassion when someone around me is in pain. Help me to be willing to sacrifice for the needs of others. Fill me with the Spirit so that I can love as You do. Make our church a place of love so that all can see that You are real. Amen.