If you love me…
While practically speaking the process of becoming mature in Christ is not simple or clear-cut, there is no mistake that love is the end goal (love in unity). Love is the nature of God, while the term “divine nature” is not often used in the Bible there are mountains of material on the centrality of love in God and how Christians partake in it.

It is only through our union with Christ through the Holy Spirit that we are granted access to God who is love himself (for there is no love apart from God). Just as it says in Hebrews:

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
(Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV)

The love of God can’t be over emphasised it is at the core of who he is. That is why it is impossible to talk about biblical unity without talking about love. Love is the glue that binds a union together; it is the self-sacrificial nature that is love that makes it good for the preservation and growth of unity.

As Jesus says, if anyone considers themselves born of God then they would love him. Therefore the outward indication of anyones membership in this new human union is that they love Christ because Christ came from God and is God.

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.
(John 8:42 ESV)

However unity in God not only requires that you love him but that you love anyone who loves him too. Just as it says:

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen.
(1 John 4:20)

The union of Christ will grow strong in the love of God, where each member concerned with the welfare of every other member seeks the best for the whole. In doing this they will express the love of God appropriately within the order determined by God as the head of all things. So how do you show our love for Christ?

Jesus states that obedience to his commandments is proof that you love him. As he says:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments…
(John 14:15 ESV)

Love in unity is reciprocal. Christ who came from God and is loved by God will love those who love him, more than this his father will love them too. This is the nature of unity:

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
(John 14:21 ESV)

“Do as I say, then I will know you love me.” this is not the manipulation of a friend or lover who wants their own way. This is the command of the head of a new human union, of God himself, to seek first his kingdom by upholding and expressing the unity of the Holy Spirit. Christ does not speak out of turn or from selfish ambition, he speaks from obedience and love of his father. By his obedience we know that he loves his father who sent him. So Christ is asking all Christians to do what he is already doing, practicing love in unity through obedience to his head.

Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
(John 14:24 ESV)

And also:

…but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
(John 14:31 ESV)

Therefore this is the command that Jesus gives to all who are united in him, that they love one another with the love he has demonstrated (love in unity). By practicing this love it will be evident to the world that you are united in Christ, the unmistakable love in unity that comes from God.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:35 ESV)

However love is not an ethic in itself, it is not enough. Love needs to be expressed within the context of the order of unity, otherwise all forms and expressions of love would be permissable.


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