“Christianity is about loving Jesus” – Bryn Elliott, Dying to Live
I began my first book, More Than Gold, with a quote from Bryn. This one quote is so rich. It encapsulates the simplicity of the faith.
The Christian faith is summed by the New Covenant and the New Command. Any doctrine absent of love is reduced to religion, religious duties, and prone to division. The New Covenant means that we are bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus and receive salvation by faith in Jesus through grace alone; the New Command means that we are to love others as Jesus loves us (John 13:34-35).
“So these commands are His commands: that we continually place our trust in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and that we keep loving one another, just as He has commanded us. For all who obey His commands find their lives joined in union with Him, and He lives and flourishes in Him. We know and have proof that He constantly lives and flourishes in us, by the Spirit that He has given us.” (1 John 3:23-24 TPT)
Every believer is in union with Jesus because we are members of His body. That being the case, the most practical way we can love Jesus is to love the body of Christ (the Church). When we love believers (the saints, the sons and daughters of God), we love Jesus. How does this change your mindset of experiencing God?
In Matthew 25:40, Jesus says, “And the King will answer them, ‘Don’t you know? When you cared for the least of these, my little ones, my true brothers and sisters, you demonstrated love for me.’” How have you loved Jesus lately?
When we love our brothers and sisters, we love Jesus (who is our brother), and we all get to experience His love. We love because He first loved us. As we experience His love, we are transformed more and more into His image, which allows us to love differently.
When we love our brothers and sisters, honor and unity in the body of Christ are the incredible by-products. The expression of love through His body into the world to care for the broken-hearted, the sick, the poor, the widow, and the orphan is the definition of bringing heaven to earth. Jesus even instructs us to love our enemies. Through His body, in oneness, the great partnership with God and His body by the power of the Holy Spirit comes alive, making disciples of all nations and discipling them into the image of Jesus. When the body is in unity, the goodness of God is on full display to the world, for all to taste and see the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8)
The Greatest Commandment
In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus says to, “‘Love the Lord your God with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, and with every thought that is within you. This is the great and supreme commandment. And the second is like it in importance: “You must love your friend in the same way you love yourself.’ Contained within these commandments to love you will find all the meaning of the law and the prophets.” (TPT)
The first and greatest command is to love God. The second greatest is to love others as we love ourselves. One is focused “up” and the other is focused “in and out.” Together, they sum up the Ten Commandments and every other command given by God in the Old Covenant.
When we love our brothers, the body of Christ, we are loving God. When we love others as we love ourselves, we are loving God as He loved us. It’s the most powerful form of worship and service. This is a beautiful and simple new law of love! From ten commandments, to two, to one!
The Passion Translation explains in a footnote that the word for “friend” it is translated from the Aramaic word kareb, which means one who is close to you emotionally or by proximity. The Greek word is “neighbor.”
In the days of Jesus, families lived in proximity together as “neighbors.” This understanding is critically important as we must understand the scripture through the eyes and culture of the writer. You are God’s family along with every other believer on earth who has ever lived and ever will live. That’s quite a family! You eternally belong to God’s magnificent family.
Are you loving other believers with all your heart, soul, and strength, as Jesus loves us? Are you loving your brothers and sisters as yourself, as Jesus loves us? Are you fulfilling the new law of love?
Circling back to the beginning of the post, Bryn’s simple words outlining the Christian faith “Christianity is about loving Jesus” has so many layers. Obviously, to love Jesus, you must first believe in Him and accept Him into your heart and love others from this place of union with Him.
Jesus said, if we obey His commands, you will remain in my love . So, love one another. (John 15:9-12)
When we accept Jesus, we become a disciple of Jesus, being progressively changed into the image of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit and dedicated to the mission of Jesus.
There is an incredible book called Love Revolution by Gaylord Enns. As the author points out, Christianity has largely ignored the New Command which changes everything! He points to the great division within the Church as the result of a focus on doctrine, largely absent of the New Command. The New Command provides the overarching context for the Word and the faith. If we don’t follow it, we are not walking in The Way. Love results in oneness.
This love means living in obedience to whatever God commands us. To walk in love towards one another is the unifying commandment we’ve heard from the beginning. (2 John 1:6 TPT)
Remember, salvation is only the inception point of our entrance into His Kingdom. We have much Kingdom work to do, and it all starts with love. Through Scripture, we learn what it is to love. We obey the teachings of the Bible because we love God and God is love. Love never fails and is our greatest weapon. We are His family. We are His friends.
“God is love! Those who are living in love are living in God, and God lives through them. By living in God, love has been brought to its full expression in us so that we may fearlessly face the day of judgment, because all that Jesus now is, so are we in this world. Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment has not reached love’s perfection. Our love for others is our grateful response to the love God first demonstrated to us. Anyone can say, ‘I love God,’ yet have hatred toward another believer. This makes him a phony, because if you don’t love a brother or sister, whom you can see, how can you truly love God, whom you can’t see? For he has given us this command: whoever loves God must also demonstrate love to others.” (1 John 4:16-21 TPT)
Have you smiled at Jesus today? Have you cared for Jesus today? Have you hugged or been hugged by Jesus today? Take a moment and ponder, what could you do for the least of your brothers and sisters?
Note: Portions of this content will be featured in Bryan Elliott’s upcoming book, Greater Than Silver, available in 2024.