My heart often overflows with both sorrow and hope because I see both the great coldness in the Church and the awesome power of the gospel to warm our heart in the presence of Christ; and I have more confidence in the gospel than I have fear of our current condition.
This is our Lord’s commandment:
John 15:12 (CSB) This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you.
The immediate message you need to hear from this verse is that if you do not love your brothers and sisters in the way that Christ loved them – through both the good times and the bad times – then you are not Christ’s disciples because you do not follow him. A doctor who has never practiced medicine is no doctor; a lawyer who has never taken the BAR is no lawyer; a disciple who does not follow his teacher is no disciple.
Love is the first directive of the Church.
This was our Father’s plan before he even made the world:
Ephesians 1:4 (CSB) For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him.
The test of our sanctification in Christ is how our heart responds to others, especially to our Christian brothers and sisters. We know that our new life from Christ is beginning to mature and bear fruit by the disposition of our heart towards others, especially when they wrong us.
Though we may frequently fail in our endeavor to love others, our heart is not content to remain in apathy or malice, but always strives together for love because it has been born anew by the Spirit of Christ and washed clean by the word of truth.
This is both our test and our testimony:
1st John 2:10-11 (CSB) The one who loves his brother or sister remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother or sister is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and doesn’t know where he’s going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
John 17:20-23 (CSB) I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. 21 May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me. 22 I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me.
The reality of Christ’s commandment must be the reality of our life if we are really in him.