By Pastor Hobbins: The Bible tells us that it is possible to be known as a disciple of Jesus. He gave us a fail-proof test of how people would know that we are His. In this passage we start off looking a fact; then we’ll see four reasons we fail.
John 15:17 “These things I command you, that ye love one another.”
The fact that Jesus stated about us was this:
1. We are defined by specific works (34-35). “By this…if…”
John 13:“34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Notice the word “as” – It’s one thing for imperfection (us) to love imperfection (others). But Christ was perfection loving imperfection. What an example! In other words, we should love people even if they have wronged us and, in that exclusive situation, we have done nothing wrong.
He specifically and literally told us that our love for one another was the specific test for discipleship. That’s a pretty plain fact.
Now let me tell you four reasons from this passage that we fail to pass this test.
2. We are disinterested in loving others because of our sinful ways (vs. 21-30).
Verses 21 – 30 tell us the story of Jesus pointing out that Judas was the betrayer. He was not interested in loving Christ (or anybody else) because he was too busy scheming his evil plan. Matthew 24:12 says, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”
3. We are distracted from loving others by becoming side-tracked by spiritual wonders (vs. 36).
John 13:36 “Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.”
Jesus had just told Peter that loving others was THE proof of discipleship. Was Peter focused on loving others? No. He was caught up wondering where Jesus was going.
Like Peter, we can get sidetracked by spiritual wonders. I don’t need to examine my love for others, because I serve in the bus ministry. Well, I’ve got news for you. I’ve served for almost 30 years in the bus ministry, (I still drive a bus every Sunday) and I know that just because a person is in the bus ministry does not mean that are compassionate. You can pick someone up for church and not even like them. You may not even like your fellow workers. Maybe it’s tithe that has satisfied your inner search for compassion. “Of course I love others, I give my hard earned money don’t I?” But don’t let the spiritual wonders of ministry or money distract you.
Consider Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 13:“1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”
This passage reveals a third reason that we don’t love people.
4. We are distraught by stressful worries (vs. 37a).
John 13:37 “Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now?…”
Again Peter got caught up in trying to figure out what was coming. He was minding other people’s business. (This time it was the Lord’s business, and although that sounds good, it was not what the Lord wanted.) Jesus wanted Peter to concentrate on the lesson of love and Peter got side-tracked by worry. “What do you mean I can’t follow you? Why, what is going on?”
Sometimes God tells us what to expect; but more often He wants us to trust our future with Him and just do what He said and “love one another.”
5. We are directed by selfish wants (vs. 37b).
John 13:37 “…I will lay down my life for thy sake.”
Peter jumped right in with what he was willing to do. Peter was more directed by “I will” than “thy will.” Essentially he is saying to Jesus, “I know you said I can’t come. But you are wrong. You obviously didn’t know what I am willing to do.” Not only was Peter unaware that he would deny Christ, but he was having the wrong conversation altogether. He wasn’t even listening to what the Lord was trying to teach him.
You could make the case that Peter was, in his own way, trying to be compassionate to Jesus by declaring that he wanted to go with Him and was willing to die for Him. But that is not what Jesus wanted! He said, “…love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Question: Do you pass the test of discipleship? If the answer is “no” and it often is for all of us, do you think your biggest struggle comes from being disinterested because of our sinful ways, from being distracted by spiritual wonders, from being distraught by stressful worries, or from being directed by selfish wants?
Original article can be found at http://pastorhobbins.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/the-proof-is-in-the-compassion/