Maybe Jesus Knew What He Was Talking About…
By Steven Hatch of Lee’s Summit, MO, USA
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. —John 13:34 NRSV
This scripture passage always puzzles me. It is not that I disagree with it, or that loving one another is difficult to understand. My puzzlement comes from wondering why it needed to be a “new” commandment. I wonder why it needed saying at all. Perhaps I am naïve, or maybe I always want to see the best in everyone. It is odd to me that we would not already want to love one another.
There are people in my life that I disagree with, and even some whom I do not want to be around. But I firmly believe that God created and loves every person equally, including myself. So even if I disagree with them, or do not like them much, I still need to understand God loves them, and they are worthy of the same love from me. I believe that is the message Jesus was conveying when he shared this new commandment with his disciples.
Still I ask why was this commandment new. Was the idea of loving one another not thought about or talked about in Jesus’ time? Other scriptures written before the time of Jesus expressed similar ideas, so it seems the idea was not new—that they did love one another. So why did Jesus have to repeat this message? I don’t have an answer, but it does cause me to stop and think about how I show love to others. It makes me pause and reflect on how I treat others—especially those I would rather avoid.
It also causes me to confess that I don’t always practice love well. Hmmm! Perhaps it is a new commandment directed at me as well as others. Maybe Jesus knew what he was talking about all along.
Prayer for Peace
Loving God, thank you for the new kind of love that Jesus embodied—the new grace, the new forgiveness—thus the new commandment. Thank you for the new peace he taught.
Spiritual Practice: Embodying God’s Shalom
Find a way to express and embody God’s shalom. Begin by prayerfully listening to your longing for peace. Become silent and imagine you can hear the groaning of the Earth’s people, nations, and creatures. Prayerfully open yourself to God’s yearning for peace and the divine vision of shalom.
Today, God, I will practice my mission in a new, Christ-like way.