In the book of John, Jesus reminds us that everyone will know that we are his disciples if we love one another. Love should always be an overriding agent in our behavior. It should drive our heart, our dedication, our decision making and our motives. But at times, loving someone, even fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, can be a challenge. Even with believers, personalities may clash, political and world ideologies may differ, and cultural biases may cause division. That is why the Bible stresses unity so strongly. Love is the binding agent that should align us to one common purpose and one common Lord. This commonality, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, should help us to supernaturally love one another if our natural tendencies fail us. It should keep us from quarreling and biting each other so that division will not be the cause of our downfall. Paul puts it this way when speaking to the Galatians in chapter 5, verses 14 and 15:
“The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
Earlier, Paul calls out divisive factions within the body. Apparently, there were those who were actively causing division; those who were resistant to what Paul was preaching, trying their best to cling to the old covenant. But we have the benefit of knowing the whole truth. We have the entire scripture. This should bring unity. It should inspire love for one another. And if we are able to remain focused on this commonality, fueled by the Holy Spirit, we will grow together in faith and we will flourish. We will encourage and uplift one another in love. And we will avoid the pitfalls outlined in this portion of scripture.
If we rely on our flesh, we will begin to look more and more like the world. Our love for each other will eventually grow cold. And like angry dogs we will “bite” at each other, and if we continue down that path, we may even devour each other. An overriding commandment is for us to love one another. I challenge you to explore what this means in your life. What does loving your neighbor look like? Are you loving your neighbor? Does it even enter your mind? Loving your neighbor may require you to be proactive. It may require prayer, the leading of the Holy Spirit, and maybe even a change of heart. Love is the primary agent driving everything in the Bible. In fact, God is love. And if love is that important, shouldn’t we pursue it with everything that is within us?