In John 13:34, Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another.” What did He mean by that? Surely even back then, loving others was not something new. People need not learn that they were to love others. To love is natural in us. Nobody needs to command us to love. We grow up loving on our own volition. We begin to love our parents. We begin to love and prefer certain types of food more than others. We begin to love and give our attention to other people, more with some than others.
People grow up “picking up” on how to love from other people. We see how our parents love and soon after we may love just like them. We see how our friends love and how our favorite celebrity idols love. We see love depicted in movies we like. Love is modeled all around us and from this exposure, we develop our own mindset and process of loving.
So what did Christ meant when He said He was giving us a new command, which is, to love others? The verse gives clarity in the end. It says, “…As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” From John 13, Christ’s desire was for us to love not the way we want to, not the way we prefer to, not the way the world loves, but the way He does. Christ was specific in the kind of love He wanted. He identified it as “Agape”. This Greek word points to “divine love”. It is divine because it is God’s kind of love. And God does not love the way we prefer to love.
God’s love is a choice love.
It is not a consequential love. It is not an impulsive love. It is committed. It is loyal. It is steady. It’s not common to see young lovers turning into old lovers of each other, holding the same intensity and vibrancy of affection and commitment. And when we chance upon old couples in their 70’s to 90’s, we feel good and uplifted inside for in that moment, we get a glimpse of God’s love.
God’s love is a proactive love.
It is not a reactionary love wherein He loves us only when we are this way or that. He loves first and He loves us whether we are and whether we are not. It is not a conditional love. He loves us when we perform to expectations and He loves us in the midst of our failings. God loves whatever the situation, whatever the season.
God’s love is an action love.
Agape love is an action love. It acts and it acts independently. It doesn’t grow tired of loving because love powers its very self. God loves us when we are bearing fruit and God loves us when we are barren. God needs no reason to start loving and needs no reason to keep loving. God loves and He loves continually because God is love. God can never be without love.
God’s love is all-inclusive.
God loves all. He has enough love for all and He is able to show the same intensity on all. And that is how He loves. He doesn’t exclude others and He doesn’t prefer one over the other. For parents to love this way is a divine enabling. It is common for parents and grandparents to have favorites among the children and grandchildren. If a child is secure and can understand, it is not detrimental to growth. However, a delicate child will suffer harm from growing up in a partial environment. The home is to be a place of absolute acceptance. The home is to be a place of utmost security. And if a child can’t feel accepted and secure at home, he may think he can never find acceptance and security elsewhere.
There are so many more we can notice about God’s love. But with what we know now, may we be encouraged and inspired to begin obeying the New Commandment to start Agape loving the people around us today.