by Charles Leiter
Christ's "new commandment" to love one another "as He love us" is at the very heart of the New Testament's teaching regarding Christian behavior ... [about] how we should conduct ourselves in the world. But at this point a question arises: How can we tell what real love is? Two college students living together in sin often justify their behavior by the fact that that "love" each other. Abortion advocates frequently claim "love" as their motivation, since they want to "help" those with unwanted pregnancies and "save" unborn children from the "life of misery" that supposedly lies ahead of them. Assisted suicides are performed by doctors in the name the name of compassion and "love," since those whom they are "assisting" are suffering and want to die. In the name of "love" lusts are gratified, lies are told, murders are committed, and criminals are set free. It seems that the Lord Jesus has left us with a very flexible and nearly worthless standard of conduct.
The problem with such reasoning is that it does not quote the new commandment in its entirety. Jesus did not simply say, "Love one another"; He said, "Love one another, even as I have loved you." In other words, our definition of "love" must come from the very conduct and teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We are called upon to "walk as He walked" (1 John 2:6) and to get our concepts of "love" from His own words and actions, not from the misguided and selfish ideas of fallen humanity. "If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing." (1 Tim 6:3-4). When Paul says that the "goal of our instruction is love," he goes on to make it clear that unholiness, profanity, murder, immorality, homosexuality, lying, and a host of other sins are "contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God. (1 Tim 1:5-11). And John reminds us that "this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." (1 John 5:3).
The Christian's standard is thus not just any sort of "love" but Christlike love -- love of the same quality and magnitude of Christ Himself demonstrated in His incarnation and death on the cross!. By rising to pray and commune with His Father, by walking through jostling crowds in perfect peace and tranquility of heart, by opening His mouth in wisdom and compassion, by washing His disciples' feet, by forgiving his enemies -- by everything He ever said and did, the Lord Jesus gave us the pattern for our conduct. As we indicated earlier, it if the highest, clearest, and brightest revelation of man's duty that could ever be given to the human race. There can be nothing more exacting, no more demanding, or more wonderful than this -- to love God and to love others in just the same way and to the same degree that Christ did! No one has ever fathomed the full import of these words, nor has anyone ever begun to fully live up to them.
Excerpt from The Law of Christ, pp. 159-160
Note: May the Lord look favorably upon His servants that we would reflect His love to one another and to the world in this way.