One final thought on trusting God for what He says is possible in light of authentic community.
3. We are to have divine love for one another.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.' John 13:34
The beautiful thing here is that this is not a suggestion – it is a commandment. Since it is a commandment, it follows that it is essentially and irrevocably possible. God commanded it and therefore we can do it!
Again, we need to unflinchingly examine this verse in the context of the messy reality of our relationships. “As I have loved you…” That is a breathtakingly powerful statement, and once again seemingly impossible from a human point of view. Our love is tinted, or even tainted, by self-interest, pride, prejudice, fear, shame, guilt and a host of other ‘broken’ emotions. Yet the command stands strong and tall – ‘as I have loved you.”
What makes it possible is that our new identity in Christ empowers us to live out of something other than broken emotions. As a new creation in Christ I can lay aside, put off, all that which prevents pure, untainted love of others.
*Since by your obedience to the Truth through the [Holy] Spirit you have purified your hearts for the sincere affection of the brethren, [see that you] love one another fervently from a pure heart. **I Peter 1:22
Simply obeying the truth of who God says we are in Christ purifies and prepares us to fervently love for one another. This goes way beyond being amiable or tolerant of one another. Another translation puts it this way,"see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently." That word fervently comes from the Greek word that means "to stretch out." Far from reserved and proper, brotherly love should be 'out there', pushing the limit, straining to make a difference in the life of another.
It is fortunate that we have the scriptures, to give us a clear expression of how Jesus loved his disciples, the nation Israel, the religious leaders, those in need of a physician, and indeed the whole world. His love encompassed the full spectrum of human emotion: he wept, he rebuked, he consoled, he encouraged, he taught, he healed, he supported, he cared for, he humbled himself, he stood strong, he endured, he bled and ultimately he died.He stretched himself to the limit in love for us!
Where is that self-less, sacrificial, whole-souled love for one another? Are we again holding our breath and pretending that one day it will all be as it should be? Or are we trusting God and getting real about what is true and possible and then being willing to get down on our knees and wash some feet? Who is going to be the first one to despise the shame and go get a basin and towel and get started? Who will stretch themselves into uncomfortable relationships so that there might be healing and wholeness? (Remember Jesus washed the feet of Judas that night!) Who will be first to model what it is to love others as Jesus loved us?
Trusting God for what He says is possible does not start with someone else. It starts with me!