“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” – John 15:12
“This is my command: Love each other.” – John 15:17
When I stop to think about it, it’s a bit strange that Jesus commanded us to love. When we think about love, it is often something outwith commands. It is a feeling, a motivation, an organic thing that comes directly from the heart. Genuine and rich and good. Love is pure and unwavering. Or that’s what we’re perhaps led to believe. So how can this, genuine and powerful thing be commanded? How can you truly command a thing that should come from the heart.
If you read any of the gospels, you’ll see that Jesus usually answers questions with…other questions, or stories or other indirect ways of guiding someone to an answer. He very rarely actually gives people the direct response they are looking for.
It’s pretty clever really. Illustrating the answer without actually spoon-feeding it to them. But not here, here he makes it very clear that this is the foundation of all he is saying: love. Love each other. He wants to be clear about this point. This is a really important one that John didn’t want us to miss when he was writing this gospel. We need to love one another as best we can. Not because we have been told to, but because this is what Jesus was all about. I think that when it talks about love being a command, John is just making it as clear as possible that this was the core of it all.
But what does it look like in the everyday to love one another? How can we love those who we don’t know? For me, I see love in action at Street Connect all the time. I see love in how we work as a team, how we build ideas together and in the very vision that started this charity in the first place. For me, love is seeing people where they are and getting along-side them. Showing them that you care. Seeking their best with them.
With the nature of the work at Street Connect, sometimes it can seem like too big an issue for us as individuals to have a real impact. When we see people begging on the streets or read the stats on the drug related deaths in Scotland over the years, it’s easy to feel discouraged.
But, there is still love. There is always love.
And so, what does love look like when you see someone who is sleeping rough on the streets? What does love look like when we come along side someone who only seems to keep falling back into a chaotic lifestyle? What does love look like for the stranger you walk past that is upset and alone? I don’t have the answers for these, because I don’t think it’s that black and white. My theory is we can never really know what love looks like until we are there in that moment, seeing the need, seeing the lack of love, and asking the question: What does love look like right now?