By: Dennis Bates
When Jesus said He had a new command for the disciples: Love one another as He had loved them, what did He really mean when He said it was a new command? After all, he had already told one of the rulers that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all you heart and all you soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and your neighbor as yourself. Furthermore, when you strip everything to the barest of bones the Ten Commandments themselves are merely a call to love our families, friends and neighbors.
So what’s new about this command?
In one of His last appearances to Peter He asks Peter three times if he loves him and Peter replies almost indignantly “yes”. Jesus then tells him to feed His lambs, take care of His sheep and feed His sheep. To me, what Jesus is saying is, “Peter, if you love me, then do something about it. Show me.”
Staci and I have had some great discussions about the difference between love as a noun and love as a verb. Love as a noun relates to emotions, feelings, and definitions. On the other hand, love as a verb acts. It proves what it is by showing what love is through actions. A person who is loving as a verb may not even use the word, but you know by their actions that they love.
Jesus tells Peter to use love as a verb. I think He is telling the other disciples the same thing. Show me your love. That’s my new command to you, make love a verb, not merely a noun.
It has always amazed me how the Hebrew people kept getting things wrong even after God showed them over and over how to get things right. It was the same with the disciples and it is the same with a lot of Christians and churches today.
The heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is learning to use love as a verb, not a noun. Yet, we continue to try to make rules and creeds and doctrines that prove we are Christians. That’s exactly what the Pharisees did. There is no freedom in that, nor is there any Gospel.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is so simple, so easy, but at the same time demanding. It demands that we quit defining love and that we start showing it. That’s the new command Jesus gave His disciples and all of us. In essence, He challenges us who say we love Him to feed His sheep, and by doing that we will make love a verb. It is so much more powerful that way.