16. Like Christ: In His Love.
"A now commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another: even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."óJohn 13:34.
"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, even as I have loved you."óJohn 15:12.
EVEN AS: We begin to understand somewhat of the blessedness of that little word. It is not the command of a law which only convinces of sin and impotence; it is a new command under a new covenant, that is established upon better promises. It is the command of Him who asks nothing that He has not provided, and now offers to bestow. It is the assurance that He expects nothing from us, that He does not work in us: EVEN AS I have loved you, and every moment am pouring out that love upon you through the Holy Spirit, EVEN so do ye love one another. The measure, the strength, and the work of your love you will find in my love to you.
EVEN AS I have loved you: that word gives us the measure of the love wherewith we must love each other. True love knows no measure: it gives itself entirely. It may take into consideration the time and measure of showing it; but love itself is ever whole and undivided. This is the greatest glory of Divine Love that we have, in the Father and Son, two persons, who in love remain One Being, each losing Himself in the other. This is the glory of the love of Jesus, who is the image of God, that He loves us even as the Father loves Him. And this is the glory of brotherly love, that it will know of no other law, than to love even as God and Christ.
He who would be like Christ must unhesitatingly accept this as his rule of life. He knows how difficult, how impossible it often is thus to love brethren, in whom there is so much that is offensive or unamiable. Before going out to meet them in circumstances where his love may be tried, he goes in secret to the Lord, and with his eye fixed on his own sin and unworthiness asks: How much owest thou thy Lord? He goes to the cross and seeks there to fathom the love wherewith the Lord has loved him He lets the light of the immeasurable love of Him who is in heaven, his Head and his Brother, shine in upon his soul, until he learns to feel Divine Love has but one law: love seeks not its own, love gives itself wholly. And he lays himself on the altar before his Lord: even as Thou hast loved me, so will I love the brethren. In virtue of my union with Jesus, and in Jesus with them, there can be no question of anything less: I love them as Christ did. Oh that Christians would close their ears to all the reasonings of their own hearts, and fix their eyes only on the law which He who loves them has promulgated in His own example; they would realize that there is nothing for them to do but this,óto accept His commands and to obey them.
Our love may recognise no other measure than His, because His love is the strength of ours. The love of Christ is no mere idea or sentiment: it is a real divine life power. As long as the Christian does not understand this, it cannot exert its full power in him. But when his faith rises to realize that Christís love is nothing less than the imparting of Himself and His love to the beloved, and he becomes rooted in this love as the source whence his life derives its sustenance, then he sees that his Lord simply asks that he should allow His love to flow through him. He must live in a Christ-given strength: the love of Christ constrains him, and enables him to love as He did.
From this love of Christ the Christian also learns what the work of his love to the brethren must be. We have already had occasion to speak of many manifestations of love: its loving service, its self-denial, its meekness. Love is the root of all these. It teaches the disciple to look upon himself as really called upon to be, in his little circle, just like Jesus, the one who lives solely to love and help others. Paul prays for the Philippians: "That your love may abound more and more in knowledge, and in all judgment" (Phil. 1:9). Love does not comprehend at once what the work is that it can do. The believer who prays that his love may abound in knowledge, and really takes Christís example as his rule of life, will be taught what a great and glorious work there is for him to do. The Church of God, and every child of God, as well as the world, has an unspeakable need of love, of the manifestation of Christís love. The Christian who really takes the Lords word, "Love one another, even as I have loved you," as a command that must be obeyed, carries about a power for blessing and life for all with whom he comes in contact. Love is the explanation of the whole wonderful life of Christ, and of the wonder of His death: Divine Love in Godís children will still work its mighty wonders.
"Behold what manner of love!" "Behold how He loved!" These words are the superscription over the love of the Father and of the Son. They must yet become the keywords to the life of every Christian. They will be so where in living faith and true consecration the command of Christ to love, even as He loved, is accepted as the law of life. As early as the call of Abraham this principle was deposited as a living seed in Godís kingdom, that what God is for us, we must be for others. "I will bless thee," "and thou shalt be a blessing." If "I have loved you" is the highest manifestation of what God is for us, then "Even so love ye" must be the first and highest expression of what the child of God must be. In preaching, as in the life, of the Church, it must be understood: The love which loves like Christ is the sign of true discipleship.
Beloved Christians! Christ Jesus longs for you in order to make you, amid those who surround you, a very fountain of love. The love of Heaven would fain take possession of you, in order that, in and through you, it may work its blessed work on earth. Yield to its rule. Offer yourself unreservedly to its indwelling. Honour it by the confident assurance that it can teach you to love as Jesus loved. As conformity to the Lord Jesus must be the chief mark of your Christian walk, so love must be the chief mark of that conformity. Be not disheartened if you do not attain it at once. Only keep fast hold of the command, "Love, even as I have loved you." It takes time to grow into it. Take time in secret to gaze on that image of love. Take time in prayer and meditation, to fan the desire for it into a burning flame. Take time to survey all around you, whoever they be, and whatever may happen, with this one thought, "I must love them." Take time to become conscious of your union with your Lord, that every fear as to the possibility of thus loving, may be met with the word: "Have not I commanded you: Love as I have loved"? Christian, take time in loving communion with Jesus your loving example, and you will joyfully fulfil this command, too, to love even as He did.
Lord Jesus, who hast loved me so wonderfully, and now commandest me to love even as Thou, behold me at Thy feet. Joyfully would I accept Thy commands, and now go out in Thy strength to manifest Thy love to all.
In Thy strength, O my Lord! Be therefore pleased to reveal Thy love to me. Shed abroad Thy love in my heart through Thy Holy Spirit. Let me live each moment in the experience that I am the beloved of God.
Lord, let me understand that I can love, not with my own, but with Thy love. Thou livest in me, Thy Spirit dwells and works in me; from Thee there streams into me the love with which I can love others. Thou dost only ask of me that I understand and accept my calling, and that I surrender myself to live as Thou didst. Thou wouldest that I look upon my old nature with its selfishness and unlovingness as crucified, and in faith prepare to do as Thou commandest.
Lord, I do it. In the strength of my Lord, I would live to love even as Thou hast loved me. Amen.