Are these two commands the same or different? When Jesus defined “neighbour,” he called a Samaritan a neighbour of the Jews, even though Samaratins and Jews hated each other. They did have common roots, however. Jesus didn’t, for example, us the example of a Greek or Roman. The command to love one another is clearly a command to love our brothers and sisters in Christ as Jesus loved us. Jesus didn’t say, “All men will know that you are my disciples if you love them,” but “if you love one another.” Is “neighbour” the same as “one another”? Except that there is no way the Jews saw the Samaritans as their brothers and sisters.
“Love your neighbour as yourself.” Matthew 22:39 NIV
“A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” John 13:34, 35 NIV
Could it be that the second greatest command is to love everyone as ourselves but to “love one another as I have loved you,” is more specific? A higher degree of love? Non-Christians will look at Christians and watch how we treat each other?
Sadly, we don’t treat fellow Christians well at all. Look at all the divisions in the Church: the different denominations; the conflict between the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland; the Klu Klux Klan! The world looks at us and sees anything but love between us. We show more love to unbelievers than to each other—though even that love is flawed. We rush to the aid of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists who have been devastated by cyclones and tsunamis but we treat homosexuals as pariahs.
Do unbelievers recognize us as belonging to Jesus? Do people see me and know that I am his? How am I loving my neighbour who hasn’t met Jesus? How am I loving the Christian who is irritating the socks off of me?
Lord, please help me let love define all I do.