“A new command I give you: Love one another.”
A Not So New Assignment
Back in the old days, there was a TV show called Mission Impossible. Each episode would introduce a new assignment given to the main character on a recording. It was top secret. The recording would self-destruct after revealing the assignment. If anything went sideways, the shadowy figures who had given the assignment would disavow any knowledge of it.
The night before his death, Jesus gave his disciples a new assignment. Unlike those on Mission Impossible, this assignment isn’t a secret. It is his assignment for all of his people of all time— “Love one another!”
“But,” you might be thinking: “That’s not new. God has always wanted his people to love others.” True. When Jesus said this command was new, he meant it was being renewed. It needed to be renewed because it had been so obscured by the religious establishment of his day. They had turned their relationship with God into a system of works—doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, in order to make themselves right with God.
But we can never be right with God by trying to do the right thing or keep the commands of God. As sinners, we fall short. We stumble and fail.
Jesus came to renew, refresh, recreate, and restore our relationship with God. Jesus lived a human life, but new and improved—not sinful, but sinless; not imperfect, but perfect; not stumbling, failing, or falling, but succeeding perfectly in his life before God. Through faith in Jesus and what he has so perfectly done, we are restored to a right relationship with God. A new and improved relationship with God.
In this newly refurbished and restored relationship with God, we trust in him, not our own goodness. We look to serve him, not ourselves. Our goal is to love others, even at our own expense.
It is the same old command: love one another. But we take on this assignment as if it’s brand new. Because in Jesus, we are brand new.
Dear Jesus, thank you for restoring my relationship with God by doing perfectly what I could not do. Continue to renew me, refresh me, restore me, that I may follow your new command in new life, with new strength. Amen.