Saturday, May 23, 2009


True story:

On a random visit last year, my mother-in-law offered me a pair of Dockers she had bought for my father-in-law, since the pants had turned out to be the wrong size for him. Once I made sure the pants would fit me, I gladly accepted the offer and brought the pants home.

A week or so later, I decided to wear the pants to work. I removed the labels from the pants, touched up the ironing, put on the pants, and went on my way. (I know, I know, I didn't wash them first...)

Later on, in the middle of my work day, I happened to put my hands in the pockets of the pants, and felt a piece of paper. I pulled out the paper and realized it was the receipt from the purchase of the pants I was wearing.

The date of the purchase was printed on the receipt, and, much to my surprise, the date was five and a half years prior to the morning I pulled the labels off the pants.

My brand-new Dockers were actually five and a half years old!

They were both new and old at the same time.

A pair of pants that should have been well-worn, if not worn out, was still in mint condition, never used, never even tried on, forgotten for half a decade. The pants hadn't served their intended purpose for anyone in five and a half years.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." -- John 13:34-35

"Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning..." -- I John 2:7

Love one another.

A new commandment? An old commandment? Both?

The children of Israel had been commanded to love their neighbors as themselves centuries before Jesus' ministry (Lev. 19:18). So, it's certainly an old commandment in that sense. But Jesus made it new again by raising the bar of what the commandment means. When He talked about loving one another, the standard became, "as I have loved you". Who could have claimed to have already had that covered?

In another sense, as John reminds his readers, the commandment to love one another is old to every Christian, because it was introduced right along with the gospel, at the very beginning of each soul's walk with Christ (I John 2:7).

But, there is yet another sense in which this commandment is both new and old at the same time, and will be forever, for every Christian.

Like my "new" Dockers, the commandment to love one another is brand-new again each time we realize we've forgotten about it.

Maybe the commandment was accepted warmly, even eagerly, to be put into service to the blessing of others, only to find its way to the bottom of a drawer, out of commission and unaccounted for. Maybe the season or the fashion changed, and it just didn't seem like the right time to wear that garment.

For whatever reason, has the commandment to love one another, as Jesus loves us, fallen to the back of your mind, or been forgotten entirely?

Is it so taken for granted that we're content never to see it?

May it never be so.

Pray that our Father will make this old commandment new in our lives every day.


Dusty Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dusty Chris said...

I think this commandment is as new to us as it was to them. I have seen many things done in the name of "love" that weren't very loving. I am sure it was the same way in the first century church.

How do we become a loving fellowship if we already think we are but are not?

David Dominguez said...

Interesting observation. I was thinking only about the times when we drift into reacting to people according to our emotions, without thinking about being loving to others.

What about when we think we're being loving, but really aren't?

Jesus did say, "as I have loved you", so that is the supreme guide. But that doesn't mean we're good at following His example.

Dusty Chris said...

I think the radical love Jesus is professing is not a fleshly love...It is a love that puts self last and strives to follow God's lead. It is self-sacrificial not self-motivated...big difference.

I think we can only love as God loves if we are willing to be led by the Spirit, not by what feels right or comfortable. There has to be some sort of test, some standard of knowing whether or not we are loving the way God wants us to love. What are the manifestations of that, where we can look at our own actions and see if we are measuring up to God's standard....or are we always going to fall short, so, why try?

I know I have been a part of a loving fellowship (in a men's group) before and it was radical...and I loved every second of...but it was like nothing I had ever seen or heard of before.