A New Commandment

What is it that you want to be known for? How do you think people see you? When people reflect on your life after you’ve passed, what might they say? Or maybe even scarier, if someone was to scroll through your social media posts, what story would be told about who you are or what you care about?

Will you be known for your accomplishments, your success? Do people primarily see a picture of what issues you stand for or against? Maybe you want people to see how great your family is, or perhaps you’re afraid people will see your disfunctions instead. Personally, I fight against a nagging fear of being obscure, that I’ll be known for nothing. We all long for significance and we all look for it in different places.

With his death impending, Jesus addresses this issue with the remaining disciples (Judas having just departed the upper room to begin the betrayal that would lead to his master’s execution). In John 13:31-33, Jesus makes a few veiled references to the events that are about to take place: his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. This is the critical turning point in Jesus incarnate mission. Everything was about to change. With that change would come questions about what would happen after Jesus was gone. Who would they be? What would they do? Would their movement survive and if so, what kind of community would they be? They expected to be militant revolutionaries. Their vision of their own significance centered around successfully restoring Israel to independence and prominence in the world: Jesus points them in another direction…

A new commandment I give 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 love one another. ­­– John 13:34-35

Three times in two sentences, Jesus repeats the command that his disciples are to love one another. But this isn’t simply one among several aspects of the new community they would begin (which would come to be called the Church); rather Jesus is saying that mutual affection is to be the defining characteristic of Christian community. This is what they were to be known for.

Christians often longing to be known for other things. Some seek significance in being right, others in being moral, and still others in to being in control. These are just a few of the attitudes regularly displayed amongst those who claim Christ. When another Christian fails to live up to their standard of theological accuracy, morality, or mission, it’s all too easy to turn on them.
In his time on earth, Jesus set a different example. His willingness to love tax collectors, prostitutes, and members of every religious faction goaded other into labeling him as morally corrupt, unclean, and a heretic. Yet still Jesus prioritized love for those who came to him (no matter their background or tradition). He was willing to embrace rejection for the sake of love. All of this culminated in the cross: Jesus was so sold out for love that he was willing to be unjustly executed in the most humiliating manner imaginable for the sake of loving those whom he called his own.

For the third time in three weeks, Jesus calls upon us to follow his example, this time to love our brothers and sisters in Christ no matter how much we disagree with them. Imagine if Christians actually behaved this way. Imagine how our social media feeds would transform. Imagine the example we could set for a polarized world, if we could love our fellow believers, even (or especially) when we don’t see eye to eye on a given topic. Wouldn’t that present an incredible alternative way of life to a polarized and dysfunctional world in which significance is often sought over and against those with whom someone disagrees. Imagine if someone’s gut reaction after being exposed to Christian community was along the lines of “I’m not sure I really agree with them, but wow do they love each other well.” That kind of love on display has the potential to fling wide the gates of the kingdom, revealing to a world longing for a significance their Maker who can tell them what they were made for: to love and be loved.

Missions Spotlight:
White Ribbon Day

It’s true… we were (somewhat politely) asked to leave a cathedral.

And honestly, we deserved it.

We had just finished performing in the country of Malta, and we had a few days before we were scheduled to be in Switzerland to participate in a very important wedding (between our very own Sierra and Pierre.)

So we decided to stop through Venice, Italy for two days on the way.
Because… Venice.

It was beautiful - and very different from anything which we had ever experienced, (which is saying a lot because by that time we had performed in more than thirty countries on five continents.)

The feeling of being in a city built on the water and enclosed by high, ancient stone walls with canals for streets felt foreign, new, and exciting.
We spent most of our first day exploring...
...and finding cool places with great acoustics to sing.

(We’re usually a bunch of introverts but that day we were in an unusual mood, I guess.)
We were having a great time until we stepped into a historic cathedral just off of the Piazza San Marco.

It was quiet and still - with only a handful of visitors…. and it had GREAT acoustics.
So of course we started to sing - trying to keep it quiet and respectful - our version of the old spiritual, “Give Me Jesus.”

Within seconds, we were “shushed” (is that even a word?) by the older Italian gentleman who was acting as security for the building, and waved out the door.

Honestly, the gentleman was just doing his job, and in retrospect, our actions - while innocent-seeming to us - were insensitive to the other guests of the church.

Our time in the city was amazing, and we have nothing but great memories of the trip and the beautiful people of Venice.

But the incident DID get us thinking:
Ornate church buildings and traditions can be beautiful - and we honor the life and wisdom of the Christian men and women who have created them for the glory of God…

But we also feel that it is incredibly important not to miss the genuine LIFE available in the person of Jesus, even in the midst of breathtaking architecture and tradition.

It is relationship with JESUS that rescues us, transforms us, and changes everything.

It was a good reminder to us to keep our focus on Jesus, and it was the inspiration for our new video, CLAUSTROPHOBIC. Watch it below

We hope it’s an encouragement to you as well and we’d love to hear what you think!
God bless you, friends, and thank you for sharing the journey with us!

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