This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE


VICKY STEPHENSON, contributor for today’s blog

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

An amazing command: “LOVE ONE ANOTHER as I have loved you”.  But HOW?  I cry out to God I am on my knees literally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Obviously I know all the answers: not by your own strength but in God’s strength. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13.

God pours out his love and fills me so I can share it with the world. But I still ask the Lord- HOW??

running-up-hillThen as I run (very slowly) up a hill in the beautiful morning sunshine with birds singing autumn leaves drifting down in a carpet of dazzling colour a small quiet voice says, “As ever Vicky, you have missed half of it. Love one another as I HAVE LOVED YOU! You are an instrument of my love in this world but that doesn’t mean all the love is for others, some of it is just for you!” Hard to keep running when I began to cry!!

I can only love others when I first allow others to love me; blimey how has it taken me 40 years to learn this lesson.  To begin with we need to accept that God loves us, just for being us. He loved you and me before the beginning of time and will continue to into eternity. He loves us when we are reading our bible and praying and when we are running round like headless chickens screaming at the children (oh maybe that is just my life). Nothing we do can make God love us any more or any less. It pleases God when we obey his commands but through Jesus his love is unconditional if we choose to accept it.  So let’s take a deep breath and let that settle in our hearts.

We have to allow others to love us. “Love one another” means a back and forth in relationship. This is so hard in our “I am an island” individualist world, where “she is an amazing ‘coper’! She doesn’t need any help!” Sometimes we read it as one-sided, not reciprocal. But that doesn’t look like the open connected deep fellowship Jesus encourages. So, we need to encourage one another to accept help, to be honest, show vulnerability and allow others to love us. This is not easy, but we will grow in Christ in this process of loving each other in this way. It is part of God’s plan. We are meant to do life together.

Jesus loved us as he accepted and rested in God the Father’s love for Him.  He loved us sacrificially by laying down his life. He shows us the symbolic everyday example he set for us when he washed the disciples’ feet. This was a beautiful, humble act! Notice though, that he didn’t completely exhaust himself with cooking the dinner and doing the washing up too!! He allowed others to love him by doing these tasks.

So, go out this week and love others but let God and others love you too!