Love one another is not a rule

Sometime ago we had two dogs. They had been with us for many years. Grown up and grown old with us. One male and one female. The little fella was called Sparky. And he was! The lady was called Marnie and she was much more “motherly” around the family. We always thought she would be the one to “go first.”

As it happened Sparky went downhill very quickly. And there came that point, the one anyone who has had a pet knows, when you look at them and you know. And you make that decision. And having made it as a family – “that day” comes.

Our wee chap Sparky spent that last morning with us. We knew. He didn’t – unless he did. The time both speeding by and also dragging every second. We knew.

“When he had gone out, Jesus said …”

Jesus knew.

That “Last Supper” as we have since named it with hindsight. I guess the disciples thought it was just supper. Jesus knew. The disciples didn’t (unless thy did). I wonder how time was passing for Jesus. Were the hours speeding by and the seconds dragging?

“Where I am going, you cannot come.”

All this time together, growing up together with Jesus. The Messiah. The wonder, the miracles, the healing. Growing up and growing old together in faith. This “new faith”. And now – they must part.

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.”

What a weird supper this must have been. Feet washing … One of you will betray me … Where I go you cannot come … Now a new commandment. Yet I see no “instruction.” I see:

“You will be severely tested, so severe you will be split, so terrible you will scatter, and on your own you are vulnerable, by yourself you will be terrified. So please for your sakes, please hold on to each other. Even when your little habits and preferences irritate, even when you are the last people you want to see, even when these memories and the events to come will cause each of you to react differently. When how one reacts will anger another, how one doesn’t react will anger another. And the thing that will get you all through – the only thing that will get you all through this – is not Me. It is you, it is each of you supporting each other, through the good the bad and the boring. So please, love one another. Even when you don’t want to. Even when it the last thing on your mind. Please love one another. Even though you cannot love as I do – aim for it. Go for it. Hang on to me and each other. Love one another for all our sakes.”

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

And so to the bit I think we have all abused. Do it and get a reward. Show-off your faith. Make it a job. Add a few rules to it. Show how much you love one another. Make it visible. Make it a badge. Make it something He never intended. Make it “duty”.

Because isn’t it simply for our own safety and sanity? Not a medal we wave in people’s noses. Isn’t it the only way we hang on to him – by hanging on to each other? When we least want to. When we least want to is when love flies – and we are left. Where we cannot be with God Jesus. Because when love flies – we don’t. We don’t go anywhere.

“Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.”

On our own we cannot. On our own we scatter. We deny. We are scared. We are not loving. We are self-preservation. We are alone. Yet together? Supporting each other? Forgiving each other? Desiring to please each other?

“Little children, I am with you only a little longer.”

I read this passage and I see no “commandment.” I see no “order” that we break or keep. I see nothing to argue about, fight over, let come between us.

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.”

Jesus did not “order” us to do something. He loved us enough to know this was the only way we would be safe and nurtured. Safe and free. Free to be who He created. Safe to be who He would love us to be. Each one of us. Together.

God Jesus didn’t go out. He came in. To each of us. And we know. If we listen. We know we fight over “commandments” – their size, their position, their colour, their weight, the rituals we are so good at adding …

“Love one another” is not a rule. It is a gift.

John 13:31-38


10 thoughts on “Love one another is not a rule

    • I am loving the playtime with Him in the mornings. It is often like hide and seek. Little thoughts, little gifts, litle surprises – all there to find and uncover.

      It was a real fun hide and seek this morning!! 🙂

    • Thank you. And the wonderful thing for me, was that this morning I came with loads of different thoughts in my head. And sitting there with these verses and the two of us – here we are. Another “when I read this back I wonder who wrote it” morning.

  1. What a beautiful post. Such implicit instruction and we in our imperfections make it more complicated and hard than it is. Jesus commanded we love one another for our benefit and we rob ourselves when we fail to do so. Such a wonderful post for Holy Week. Thank You!

  2. We cannot give what we have not received. He first loved us…loving others become effortless when we have received much from Him. You said; “That “Last Supper” as we have since named it with hindsight. I guess the disciples thought it was just supper”. So beautiful said…how we have our own last suppers in life and yet unaware. Thanks for sharing

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