The law of "Loving your neighbor as yourself" was the old law given in the Old Covenant as recorded various places including Lev. 19:18. When Jesus said "A new commandment give I you..." [John 13:34] He was NOT giving a new commandment to love, which was already given, but rather (He was giving a new commandment in) HOW to love someone --- " As I have loved you." [Not as you love yourself.]Think about what Jesus is saying. We have always been commanded to love others - from the very beginning. But in the New Covenant our standard or measurement of loving others is no longer "love people like I love myself," but rather, "love people as Christ has loved me."
The question one should ponder as we think about how we are to love others is clear: How is the love of Christ for my soul different than my own love for my own soul? There many, major differences between self-love and Christ's love for me. But there is one major difference I would like to point out in today's post.
Self-love is powerful and deep - but expected; Christ's love for me is so much more powerful, so much deeper - and unexpected! Thus, my love for others in the New Covenant ought to astonish, amaze and cause people to scratch their head in wonderment and surprise - just as I am astonished, amazed and surprised by Christ's love for me.
Psychologists tell us that self-love is universal. Even those with "low self-esteem" love themselves - or they wouldn't be bothered by whatever problems they perceive they have. Again, self-love is easily understood and explained.
But Christ's love for me hard to explain and understand. His love is so much stronger, and so much more powerful - and unexpected!. Thus, loving people the way Christ loved me is so much deeper, stronger and incredibly more powerful than we imagine. It is also surprising to those being loved! In other words, New Covenant love for others is "astonishing," just as Christ's love for me astonishes me!
Could it be the reason there is so little love among Christians today is because we have ceased to be astonished at Christ's love for us?
Too often we pastors and church leaders want to focus people on "their love for God," but when I read the Scriptures and the prayers of the apostles, their concern was not so much that believers increase in their love for God as it was that believers grow in their comprehension of God's love for them.
"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father . . . that you may have the strength to comprehend . . . and know the love of Christ which surpasses your knowledge" (Ephesians 3:14, 18-19)Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
When we become more and more amazed at Christ's love for us, we then begin to understand that loving people in the New Covenant way is to surprise them with our love as we are surprised by God with His love for us.
In His Grace,