“Above all, love one another deeply”. This is what we are asked to do this morning. As we serve, work, proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in word and deed, we are primarily called to love one another. The hardest command of Jesus, in my view, is to love God with everything we have, love our neighbours, and love ourselves. As I’ve said before here I think, some of us think we’re ok at 1 or 2 of those, but not many of us, if we’re honest, really cope with loving ourselves, others and God all at the same time. And yet this is what we’re asked to give our lives to.
What does it look like to love one another deeply? Well, ultimately I think it means to do everything we can to point one another to Jesus. This might be a wise word, a sermon or whatever, but more likely it’ll be the small act of kindness, the sacrificial giving, the offering of time, a listening ear. Time is the greatest gift we humanly have to share I believe. Not many of us are used to people giving of their time just to see how we are, to encourage and challenge, stretch and strengthen us. Jesus, though, died and rose so that we could spend eternity, unlimited time and space, with Him, and He with us. For us to truly love, and to be loved, we need to see that people are more precious than activities, that loving each other deeply is to prioritise seeing the work of God in another, or in a group of people,. drawing alongside them and asking God to help us to experience, and perhaps even to be, the sacrament of the present moment in the life of another.
As this passage goes on to suggest, and as we see all too often and easily in the present time, suffering is part of the Christian life and experience. As we deplore the treatment of Christians in Mosul and other, less publicised parts of the world, this morning, let us pray for them as they share in the sufferings of Christ, that they might know his presence and peace and, for us, that whenever we are brought into places and times of suffering for our faith, that we might faithfully love one another, love God and love our persecutors, deeply.