Monday, February 3, 2014

Love One Another - Part V

"I love you"  We hear these words fairly often, either directly or indirectly. Our spouses, children, friends, acquaintances and even strangers will express their love for us and each other by words or by loving actions. We overhear the communication of love within our communities, hear it in song or see it expressed in movies or television. Consequently, we return an expression of love by affirming love for others in our lives. In it's purest form, love is reciprocal; an action that demands reaction and vice-versa.

But how do we react when the reciprocal nature of love is absent? How do we love and express love to those in our lives that are not easy to love? How do we love when love is not returned to us or even acknowledged by the other person?

The familiar words of John 13:34 call to us from the lips of Christ, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." He makes no promise that love will be returned to us, or even that it will be received as a welcome sentiment. There is no expectation or guarantee that we will see the benefits of love, or that a tangible manifestation will be created for the common good of society. Quite simply,we are called to love. But there's a subtle catch that may or not have been intentional.

When the command to "love one another" reaches the ears of those who hear, we cannot ignore the "one another" present within the command. If you and I are sitting in a room together and hear the words, "love one another", can we ignore the fact that if we are loved, we must express love in return? Christ doesn't simply compel us to "love others". We are called to "love one another". If heard in isolation, the command would make no sense, but it is meant to be heard, responded to and acted upon based on community. The assumption is that there will always be an "another" in any situation in which love is expressed.  So, while we may never be promised that love will be returned to us, we can rest in the essential co-existing nature of love. As with the air that we breath, love is sent forth and love is brought back within.

In our continuing discussion of what it means to "love one another", I asked the following friends to contribute a few sentences on what the concept means to them. Can you spot the common theme?   

"For me, "love one another" is action, not just feelings. In fact, it's action in spite of feelings. And for me, the action boils down to just being kind."

- David Hayward 

 David Hayward has a Masters in Theological Studies as well as in Ministry and Religion and has served local churches for over 30 years. He left the professional ministry in 2010 and launched an online spiritual community called The Lasting Supper. He is best known as the nakedpastor, a graffiti artist on the walls of religion.

 “Loving one another is being kind, caring, committed and compassionate towards others...loving other people as Christ loves us. It's not an easy task and it goes against human nature, but it is God's loving nature to love us in spite of all our look past all the sins and all the warts and see and love the beautiful person God has created. I think it is also about forgiving...simply striving to be Christ-like in an ungodly world....” 

- Jerri Brezik
Jerri is a leader at Hope Church in Houston, Texas, currently serving as a prayer ministry leader and leading prayer servant training. She is also actively involved with praise team and choir. She was baptized in the Baptist Church and grew up in the Christian Church. Jerri is a Retired NASA contractor manager and has been married to her husband Jim for 26 years. Between them both they have three children and four grandchildren. 

“To love one another is to help all people become most fully themselves. This goes beyond the golden rule of doing to others as we would like done to ourselves, but means understanding others so well that we treat them as they desire to be treated. While this often involves helping remove roadblocks and injustices that stand in others' way, it starts with seeing and accepting others as themselves and not through the lens of who we would like them to be.” 

Julie is an author, speaker, and mother who lives in Austin, TX. She is the author of Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices and The Hunger Games and the Gospel. Connect with Julie at 

“Every definition of what it means to Love One Another will risk oversimplification: "To serve in a way that leads to friendship, but does not demand it." Love is serving others, even enemies, in a way that might make possible a friendship; not based on competition but unconditional admiration. Friendship is better than sacrifice. "Self-sacrifice" is not an end but a means to a eudaemonistic end of loving friendship. "

- ChrisHaw
Chris is the author of two books: Jesus for President (2008) and From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart (2013). He lives with his family near Notre Dame University, where he is doing his PhD in theology and peace studies. For the last ten years he worked as a carpenter and adjunct professor (and a bunch of other stuff) in Camden, NJ. Connect with Chris at

 "I believe loving one another well means seeing them through the eyes of Christ. It is not approaching the relationship in a way of thinking "how can I serve you" or "what can I gain from our relationship" it is recognizing that each person is a Creation of the Almighty and is Holy and Dearly loved in His sight. It is in focusing on that aspect of a person that allows you to Love them as Christ does." 

- Erika Steele
Erika is Executive Director of Lighthouse Christian Ministries, a non-profit in Bacliff, TX.  She is blessed to be the wife of an amazing Christian man and the mom of two energetic, bouncing five year old twins. 

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