7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)
Through the Bible: 1 John 1-5
John Stott, in his commentary on the letters of John, recounts this story from St. Jerome, who died in 420 AD. Jerome, who first translated Scripture into Latin from Hebrew and Greek tells how the apostle John, in extreme old age at Ephesus, used to be carried into the congregation in the arms of his disciples. As he was being carried to the front of the gathering, he would simply mutter, over and over, “Little children, love one another. Little children, love one another”
John’s followers became weary of hearing this one sentence over and over. Finally, they said to him, “Master, you are the only one left alive of our Lord’s disciples. Surely He said other things that you can teach us. Why do you always say only this?”
“Because,” he replied, “it is the Lord’s command, and if this only is done, it is enough.”
While we can’t know for sure if this account is true (the source Jerome quotes has been lost to history), it certainly is consistent with John’s gospel and letters. The gospel of John uses the word “love” or one of its derivatives thirty-three times, more than the other three gospels combined. And the five short chapters of 1 John use the word “love” more than any other book in the New Testament.
How different would next year be if you decided that, no matter what, you were going to love? That regardless of anyone else’s annoying quirks, political persuasions, or personal slights, you would choose love? John quoted Jesus as saying, “By this will all people know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35).
Not church attendance. Not orthodox theology. Not an advanced degree from seminary. Not a five-figure tax write-off for charitable contributions. Love.
What will you be known for in the new year? How will other people know you are a follower of Jesus?
Love is the Lord’s command. And if this only is done, it is enough.