I give you a new command…

In The God Blog

I Give You A New Command: Love One Another

If Jesus Himself were to stand up after church next week and say:

“And now I give you a new commandment: love one another.” (John 13:34 – GN)

Would there not be some rebuke in this? It is a new command and wouldn’t this imply that we were really not loving each other?

Of course, these words of Jesus were not a new command at all. John would later say,

“…let us all love one another. This is no new command I am writing you; it is the command which we have had from the beginning.” (2 John 1:5 – GN)

All that God has ever asked is that we live in a loving and trusting relationship with our God and with each other, but have we fulfilled this commission of Jesus? How many times in human history could you actually say – even among God’s friends – that love is the way that God’s people were treating others?

 

The disciples

These words of Jesus, of course, were spoken not to a rebellious mob, but to his disciples in the upper room. His own disciples who, all through his 3 and ½ year ministry and right up to the upper room, for the most part did not exhibit the ideal of love for others.

In fact, the disciples’ behavior again and again showed that they were fully infected with the satanic virus that has plagued all of humanity. This selfish “me-myself-and-I virus”; the virus that drives us to selfishly judge and condemn others; the virus that pushes us to judge and condemn others rather than sacrificially serve others.

Were the disciples not infected with this mentality? For example, how many times in the gospels did the disciples ask Jesus if they could be first in his kingdom, or if they could sit at his right hand?

And even after his resurrection just as Jesus was about to be lifted up into the clouds, here was the final question from his disciples:

“Lord, are you now going to give Israel its own king again?” (Acts 1:6 – CEV) Are you going to restore the kingdom of Israel to power? Are you now going to defeat the Romans? And, by the way Jesus, when you do, can I be first?

What a send off the disciples gave Jesus with that question. They should have remembered Jesus’ words, “My kingdom is NOT of this world”.

 

The goal: A kingdom within and among his people

This is how Jesus described the kingdom that he wanted to establish: “No one will say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’; because the Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21 – GN) – Or, “among you”, in other translations.

Jesus is all about changing hearts and minds, not about manipulating presidents and world powers and making sure that His followers are in positions of political power. But the disciples were still looking out primarily for #1 – self.

What would it look like if God were able to establish his kingdom of love within and among his people? What would that kingdom look like? Is it possible and what would be the world wide effect of such a movement?

 

The virus

Well, let’s first go back and describe the problem and the predicament that we are in, and to do that we’ll pick on the disciples a little more – this time actually the mother of James and John who made this request:

“The mother of James and John came to Jesus with her two sons. She knelt down and started begging him to do something for her. Jesus asked her what she wanted, and she said, ‘When you come into your kingdom, please let one of my sons sit at your right side and the other at your left.’ Jesus answered, ‘Not one of you knows what you are asking…. When the ten other disciples heard this, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called the disciples together and said: “You know that foreign rulers like to order their people around. And their great leaders have full power over everyone they rule. But don’t act like them. If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. And if you want to be first, you must be the slave of the rest. The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people. (Matthew 20:20-28 – CEV)

This is an incredible passage because it illustrates the way our entire world operates, in contrast with the new way of living. What is the way of this world? “Jesus, can I be first in the kingdom.” “Can I sit at your right side Jesus?” “Will you set up a powerful kingdom on earth” And, in this case: “Let my sons be the first.”

Notice how Jesus described the selfish heart in this passage: ‘people with power that like to order others around’ – power, greed, and the urge to push others down to rise to the top.

But Jesus said, “Don’t be like that! Don’t act like them!” “My kingdom is not of this world”.

Why is our world this way? This me-first/survival of the fittest attitude is pervasive and it runs through all levels of society. From the arena of politics and the corporate world, to the gangs of Los Angeles, and all the way down to young children on a playground, the intense drive to be the most important, the one with the most power, status and prestige. We are addicted to self and to do anything that elevates self, even if that means pushing others down.

 

Judging others

For example, I recently had to take my 10 year neurology board recertification examination and for this I had to travel away from home for the test. The night before the examination, I went out for dinner. And, as I was sitting there quietly and with thoughts swirling in my head, I became fascinated by the conversation of 4 young women sitting at a table next to mine.

An overweight man entered the restaurant, and one woman smirked, “Look at that guy over there” and this was followed by laughing and jokes about his weight. And, the entire conversation that ensued at that table over the next 30 minutes – and I mean the ENTIRE conversation – was to judge, condemn, and in general to be very critical of other friends, coworkers, and family members. And they were having a great time – a euphoric time – doing this.

What were they really doing? They judged and condemned the overweight man as a way to build up self because “Hey, I’m not that man and I’m feeling better about myself because I’m not that man.” By putting him down, they elevated self, and that power felt good, and for a brief moment any feeling of insecurity or fear was pacified.

Judging and condemning others, is a supremely selfish act and it is an action that is in direct opposition to God’s kingdom. When we criticize and condemn others, this is almost always done based on very little information, and we set ourselves up as judge and jury.

We consume the other individual, in order to restore ourselves to a more elevated status. This is the way of our world, but living life in this way is ultimately self-destructive.

How does Jesus, the judge of all, view that overweight man? He loves him of course. He died for him. And He would say to him as he said to the woman caught in adultery, “I do not condemn you.” But yet, we, in our desperate attempts to feed the compulsions of selfishness, judge and condemn those that God does not judge and condemn.

But notice what happens. In this case, the man was completely unaware of the laughter at his expense and was unaffected by it. But those 4 women were destroying their own character.

This was exactly what was going on among the disciples. Remember how they judged and condemned the Caananite woman, and the Samaritan woman, and of course each other in their effort to be the most important.

About this, Paul would say:

“Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself.” (Romans 2:1 – The Message)

The act of self promotion and judgmental criticism, it being the exact opposite of God’s kingdom, which is to love and serve other – inherently leads to the self destruction of our own character and makes it fully impossible for God to establish his kingdom within and among his friends on earth.

Jesus would say:

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.” (Luke 6:37,38 – The Message)

This is the new way of living, thinking and acting. God designed this world to operate on the principle of loving others, not condemning them. We are to be other-centered as our God is other-centered. We are to be unselfish as our God is unselfish. We were designed to serve others, as our God lives to serve others.

 

The virus from the beginning

But the entire Bible is a record of how everything went wrong in God’s universe. And what exactly went wrong? The Bible describes how a glorious being began to exalt self and to love self rather than others. In Isaiah his rebellion was described this way:

“You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14 – NIV)

But notice that as Satan desperately tried to exalt self, what did this naturally lead him to do? Is not Satan called our accuser? Satan is the ultimate judgmental, critical and condemning individual in his desperate attempts to feed self.

But this extends far beyond you and I, for in his desire to even to surpass the Almighty, he even dares to judge and condemn God himself, and he has tried desperately to lead the entire universe to falsely judge and condemn God as a severe and harsh task master, as arbitrary, unforgiving, and restrictive of our freedom.

The first lie to Eve was to condemn God as an untrustworthy liar! And, when our world bought that lie and joined Satan in rebellion, we joined him in our desire, to our deepest core, as a people striving to elevate self at all costs at the expense of others – just like Satan.

For what was the first thing Adam and Eve did after sin? They immediately went into selfish, self preservation mode by criticizing each other to protect self. Adam blamed Eve, but noticed the implied criticism of God, “The woman you put here with me gave me the fruit…” (Genesis 3:12). “God, I would have been just fine here in this garden if only you hadn’t put this woman here with me.” How shameful!

And that kind of dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest mentality has been the overall attitude of this sinful rebellion until this very day. The entire Old Testament and right up to the life of Jesus is the story of a people determined to feed self and to destroy others.

 

Jesus

But then, something happened.

Everything changed 2,000 years ago when God, the One who is other-centered love personified, left his thrown and became a single cell inside the womb of Mary.

God did not sit on a distant throne in heaven and declare, “Please! Just love each other down there.” God came in human form to reveal in a most painful way, that His kingdom is entirely about loving others more than self. This great principle ultimately lead him to lay down His life

– for there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friend – and God could do no less than to reveal His greatest love.

Jesus opens our minds for the first time to the Godhead – the 3 in 1 – which are themselves such a wonderful manifestation of this other centered love. Look at the way those 3 glorious beings interact with each other:

  • The Bible says that Jesus is equal with God. The Son is fully God. But yet, in his earthly mission, he did not travel from town to town to promote self by saying, “I am God in human form. That’s me – God!” No, he deferred and pointed to the Father. He said of his mission on earth, “I have come to make you known [speaking of the Father]. I have come to reveal your character.” And, in deference to the Holy Spirit he said, “It is better that I go so that that Comforter may come.”
  • But notice how does the Father treat the Son in return? In Revelation, only the Lamb is worthy to open the scrolls, and then we read in Philippians where the Father gives the Son “a name that is higher than any other name.”
  • And what about the other member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, does he point to self? No, he reveals to us the truth about the Son and the Father.

The Trinity is certainly a model to us of this other centered way of living.

 

Nature

And even in this world that is so far from the ideal, God has nevertheless tried to surround us with the ideal.

For example, even though Nature is today known for survival of the fittest, that is not the way God designed it originally and still in nature today we can see many residuals of the ideal.

For example, take an apple tree. It is there solely to serve: birds nest in its branches; we enjoy its shade, its beauty, and of course its fruit. It is there for others and requires minimal resources from us in return.

 

Husband-Wife

The Husband-Wife relationship is also designed by God to teach us this great principle of other centered love. Of Adam, God said that it was not good that he should be alone. Why? Did Adam need someone to serve him, or did Adam need someone that HE could serve and thereby learn to love others more than self. And so ideally a man and a woman come together in love and as one, and marriage should reflect the ideal of other-centered love.

 

Children

But God did not stop there. He has even shared his creative power with us as another way to teach this principle, for having children compels even the most hardened of us to love and to serve. Those first few years require tireless service and other-centered love which is absolutely necessary if that baby is to survive.

 

Parents

But what should happen in return? God didn’t need to put in the 10 commandments, “love your children and take care of them”. This comes somewhat natural to us.

He did though have to tell us though to love and honor our parents. And so, Parents get old and children are to serve their parents. And once again there is a beautiful cycle of other centered love that is completed.

 

The law of love

God has not left us in the dark about the ideal. In fact all of the rules and laws that God has given were a desperate attempt to bring us back into harmony with the one supreme law, to love and serve others, as Paul would conclude:

“Instead, let love make you serve one another. For the whole Law is summed up in one commandment: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’” (Galatians 5:13-14 – GN) Notice that all law – the whole law – is to bring us to love and serve others. And when we are truly loving and serving others, we have the law written on the heart.

Later Paul would say:

“Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. And look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own.” (Philippians 2:3 – GN) Can you even imagine a world where the people consider others above self?

And again in Romans:

“In brotherly love let your feelings of deep affection for one another come to expression and regard others as more important than yourself.” (Romans 12:10 – NJB)

Would you mind living in a world where others were more concerned about your own well being than you are? Where others were very jealous for your reputation and were eagerly looking out for your best interest? A world where no one condemns or criticizes others; a world where everyone puts the best possible interpretation on the your words and actions.

Every year I teach a very large class of about 180 medical students and given that medical school lasts four years, this means that there are over 700 medical students driving around my neighborhood that I run into all the time. And, with that in mind, I did something very foolish several months ago.

There is a wonderful little bagel shop near our home where we pick up bagels almost every week. And, on this particular Sunday morning, I arrived with no cash, which is a problem since they accept cash only.

I was in a real hurry on this morning and it is at least a 15 minute trip to drive to the nearest ATM that I could think of, and then I saw the neon sign in the liquor store, just 3 stores away: “ATM.”

I quickly reviewed the 4 or 5 things on the agenda for that morning, and so, rather impulsively, I ran into the liquor store to get some cash. And wouldn’t you know it, on my way out of the liquor store I see a small red pickup and inside, a smiling medical student. We made eye contact and he waved. And it flashed through my mind that this does not look good to be coming out of a liquor store at 8 in the morning. Can I trust my reputation with that student?

Well, if we are truly God’s children, we will jealously put the best possible interpretation on the actions of others. We will not condemn or criticize; we will love others and be a source of support, encouragement, and service to our brothers and sisters.

 

Reward-punishment

I think that the natural question to ask at this point is how in the world is it possible for us to live in this way? So accustomed are we to the “me-myself-and-I” mentality.

God has tried in many and various ways to lead us back to this ideal. We see in the Old Testament that he would occasionally use the reward-punishment method. And, as any parent knows, that is a very rudimentary starting point of obedience for the immature.

 

Child

Let’s say that you have a rebellious son who is continually in fights with his classmates. As a parent you do everything possible – you counsel and spend time with your child, but a part of your methods to reform would include reward for good behavior, punishment for bad behavior. And perhaps your child begins to obey.

But these are primitive reasons for obedience and how sad it would be if this son some day called from college and said, “Dad, I just wanted to let you know that I didn’t hit anyone in class today. Are you pleased?”

That would be a very depressing phone call for a parent, but it was exactly the state of mind that the Pharisees were in during Jesus’ day.

 

Pharisees

They were trying hard to obey, because they served a god who was an arbitrary tyrant, and who – in their minds – had given them a list of rules to keep. The rules didn’t make sense, but that didn’t matter, because if they didn’t keep the list, they assumed that they were in very serious trouble. But, if they kept the list externally, they thought that a great reward was theirs.

Rewards and punishments are not a good reason for obedience – well maybe for a very immature people – but if we do not grow out of that mentality, we are actually capable of hating God, even as we obey.

That may sound like a rather bold claim, but why did the Pharisees petition Pilot to break the legs of those men hanging on the Cross? The Bible says that it was for the purpose of speeding their death, because otherwise they might be late for Sabbath, and keeping the Sabbath was in their minds, one of the rules. It had little meaning other than that God told them to keep it. And so they rushed home from the Cross to worship….who? Who is God, but the One they had just crucified!? Insanity!

So, we need to have a better motivation for loving others than simply, “God said so” and our hope of a heavenly reward or fear of punishment.

 

Love for God

Wouldn’t a better motive for obedience be because we love God and desire to please Him? And that may sound good on the surface, but imagine that your son once again called from college: “Dad, I didn’t hit any of my classmates today, because I love you Dad.” Maybe he adds under his breath, “You know, it has never made a bit of sense to me why you think it’s important that I don’t argue and fight with others, but I love you and I want to please you Dad, so I obey.” [And maybe he is thinking “when Dad dies I can finally give up this senseless was of living”] Would that please you as a parent? No. That is still an immature reason for obedience. It is an improvement over obeying for fear of punishment or for hope of reward, but it is not the ideal and we are still very weak if that is our only motivation.

 

In agreement with God

What do you hope for as a parent? You hope that your children will grow up and do the right things because doing the right things have been imprinted on their mind whether you are around or not. You child in college is kind and respectful to others for no other reason than that living in this way has become a part of him, and to live in any other way is completely contrary to his nature. It has become, to him, the only sensible way to live.

And this is what God wants as well, that we live the way we do, that we love others and do not criticize and condemn them, not because we are afraid God will punish and not for hope of reward; and not even that we live in a certain way because we love God (although that certainly must be there).

Ideally, we think and act like Christ, because we agree with God that this is the most sensible way to live. To live in any other way has become for us, contrary to our natural inclinations. The principle of God’s kingdom – to serve and to love others – has now become very desirable. We are now in agreement with God and in harmony with his principle of love.

 

Sharks

Imagine that you are walking by a beach where the water is filled with sharks. Let’s say that swimming in this beach, for the purpose of illustration, represents living life according to the self centered principle of Satan’s kingdom.

But, in our delusional state and so far apart from God, we have lost the ability to see and to understand that swimming in this beach was hazardous. And so God, very graciously puts a big fence around the entrance to this beach, with big signs that say “DANGER” and with directions to a much nicer beach on the other side of the island.

And God has certainly given us many rules and laws to help us in our immaturity hasn’t he? But how do we look at those rules? Do we walk by this beach and say, “What an arbitrary God that just decided to put this fence up? Look at all of the burdensome restrictions he has placed on us?”

But even worse, is that we have actually imagined that God said, “If you swim in that ocean – if you break my rules and climb over the fence – I’ll kill you.”

No! The reality is that the sharks will kill you, not God. All of God’s efforts as revealed in the Bible and most clearly in his life and death, have been to win us back to love and trust him and to love our neighbor, and to by contrast reveal the horrible and malignant nature of sin. The sharks pay the wage (sin pays the wage) not God.

What God wants is that we walk by this beach that is teeming with hatred for our brothers and sisters, and with a deep clarity, we see the sharks in there. But yet, we have a deep conviction that the last thing in the world we would ever want to do is to swim in that ocean!

That is what it means to have the law written on the heart, and when we have the law written on the heart, guess what? God can take down all the signs and fences because we are free!

When this happens, we no longer see the law as a burdensome legal process, but rather we agree with God and we do what is right because it is right, and because it is what we naturally are inclined to do. When we live in this way, we are absolutely free!

 

Jesus

But now, let’s return to our passage in John for some more details:

“And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. [But notice, how are we to know what it is to love one another? He goes on.] As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35 – GN)

It was Jesus who opened our eyes to really see and to internalize the principles of his kingdom of love? Jesus, God in human form, is everything to us. He first loved us and he is our example of love. He is the one that restores our bond of trust with God once again.

God stooped to become one of us, to restore our trust in him and that by beholding him we may be changed – changed into loving people once again.

Jesus showed us what real love is all about, and when we internalize his love and return that love and service to our brothers and sisters of this world, this is the mark of a true disciple of God.

 

Patient-Physician

Jesus is our Heavenly Physician. He is the One who heals our broken hearts and minds.

I have a patient with a rare disease, called Myasthenia Gravis, a condition in which the nerves do not communicate properly with the muscles which results in weakness. This is a very treatable condition, but yet for several years, he had not kept his appointments with me – either not showing up or canceling his appointments. As it turns out, he had stopped taking his medications, a long time ago, and then was involved in drug abuse and a number of other things that were worsening his condition.

He finally came in to see me, head down and looking very guilty, and he was a mess. He was weak all over, with droopy eyelids, shortness of breath, and difficulty swallowing. But when he described to me the foolish things that he had done, he looked so humiliated as if he expected me really to lay into him.

I could tell, that it was liberating to him, when I said, “Hey, I’m just glad that you’re here! That’s all that matters! Now, let’s talk about how we can make you better.”

Is our God less gracious than that? Look at the story of the prodigal son. That son did not get more than a few words into his speech of repentance when the Father wrapped His robe and His arms around him.

But, there is another application to this patient-physician illustration. I want you to imagine that a physician in this scenario tells this very sick patient as I did, “Look, I’m so happy you’re here. Now, let’s sit down and talk. If you put your trust in me, if you keep your appointments with me, and follow my advice, I can help you, and you will get better.”

Wouldn’t that be exactly what a sick person would want to here? Would a sick patient respond to these encouraging words by saying, “Wait a minute! What did you just say? Look, I’m not looking to get better. I just came here to be forgiven. And what kind of a legalistic/perfectionist doctor are you? Are you telling me that I have to spend time with you, trust you, follow your advice, and that you expect me to heal? Look, I just came here to be forgiven or to get a shot or something.”

Does God offer us no more than forgiveness? God is in the business of forgiving His children and God is never the limiting factor when it comes to forgiveness. God humbly forgave those who tortured Him to death on the Cross. His forgiveness is His kindness poured out on us. His forgiveness is meant to pierce our heart with love that we might turn to Him.

God’s willingness to forgive is not even an issue, but His question for us then is “would you like to be well?” Our Heavenly Physician, the one who could speak a universe into existence and who could re-create His friend Lazarus after 4 days in a tomb – is He not capable of creating within each of us a new heart and a right spirit, or this that too tall of an order for even God?

Our work is not to heal ourselves. Our work is not to worry about how healed or about how messed up we are. Our work is to come to know our Heavenly Physician intimately and as a Friend and to put our trust in Him and to come into agreement with His principle of other-centered love. Because when we do, there are unavoidable natural consequences of healing that take place as we are changed from self-centered rebels, and into a people who love others as Christ loved others.

 

Abraham

Do you perceive God’s offer of healing as a threat? When God came to Abraham and Sarah and told them that in their old age that they would have a son, should they have said, “I can’t believe God! In our old age he is demanding of us that we have a son. He’s asking the impossible! His demands are too high.” Or, should they not have said, “This is good news and we are trusting God that He is infinitely capable of doing what He has promised.”

But the exciting thing is what happens when God does work a change within a person? What happens when a very sick patient is cured at the hands of a competent physician? People say, “Wow, look at you! Who did you see? I need to check out your doctor!”

And when we begin to treat our brothers and sisters with real love and kindness, it speaks louder than words about the kind of Person our God is, and people will flock to Him for healing.

 

Sealed

Jesus came to reveal the truth about who God is that we might come to trust our Heavenly Physician once again, instead of viewing him to be an untrustworthy quack. He came to reveal the truth about God, for this is the truth that sets us free. He said to Pilot:

“I was born and came into the world for this one purpose, to speak about the truth. Whoever belongs to the truth listens to me.” (John 18:37 – GN)

Jesus came not only to speak about the truth, but as other versions translate this, to “bear witness” – in other words to demonstrate the truth in action. He came to reveal the truth about the character of God and of the principle of His kingdom. Are we listening to this voice of truth?

After his demonstration of humility by washing his disciples feet he said, “Now that you know this truth, how happy you will be if you put it into practice” (John 13:17). What truth had he just revealed? The truth that our God is the kind of person who would humbly stoop to wash the feet of his betrayer!

Are we settled into that truth about God and do we desire to be like Him in his gentleness and humility?

 

Holy Spirit

How is the Holy Spirit involved? This revelation to us of who God is, and of His great principle of other-centered love, is the primary function of the Holy Spirit. In the upper room Jesus described to his disciples what would be the stimulus for the great manifestation of power at Pentecost this way:

[And listen very carefully, for if there is to be a latter rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit, this will be the foundation]

“He is the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God” (John 14:17). And again, “The Helper will come – the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God” (John 15:26). And yet again, “When the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth” (John 16:13). What truth? The truth that God is just like Jesus in character!

Any future outpouring of the Holy Spirit will have at its heart, a message that is focused on God’s character, God’s love, and God’s principle of other centered love.

This wonderful verse in Ephesians 3 explains the natural unavoidable consequences of prayerfully contemplating the character of God, and of holding the message about the character of God as the centerpiece of every thought and of every doctrine:

“Yes, may you come to know his love—although it can never be fully known—and so be completely filled with the very nature [the very character] of God.” (Ephesians 3:19 – GN)

His love and the depths of his character can never be fully known but we will spend eternity coming closer to the center of God’s love. The closer we come to this reality of who God is we will discover that the reality will always greatly exceed all previous understanding:

  • We move from the perception that we beg God to let us in and to the reality that he is standing right at the door of our heart and gently knocking, asking if we will let him in.
  • We move from the perception that God is the judge and master while we are the worthless servants, and awaken to see the reality that God does not want to call us servants anymore, he wants to call us his friends.

This process of moving to the center of God’s love can begin today. God Himself desires nothing more than to explain the entire story. God invites our questions. God want to look us in the eyes as He did with His friend Moses, and with no coercion or intimidation, enter into meaningful dialogue with each one of us.

 

Eternal life

Eternal life is to know God and when God has established his kingdom within and among his people, we will see some amazing things in the world.

Case in point: You remember those self-centered, me-first disciples? When they were filled with the Holy Spirit and became settled into the truth about who God is in character, there was a visible transformation that was evident even to their enemies. In Acts we read that, “The members of the Council were amazed to see how bold Peter and John were and to learn that they were ordinary men of no education. They realized then that they had been companions of Jesus.” (Acts 4:13 – GN)

Could there be a greater compliment than this: “Oh…..I see that you have been with Jesus, because….you talk like him and you act like him.”

And what was the result of this relatively small group of transformed people taking this message about God throughout the world? When Paul and Silas arrived in Thessalonica, their reputation had preceded them, and they were known as men who:

“These men who have turned the world upside down…” (Acts 17:6 – ESV)

The reflection of Christ’s character of love within His people is the highest ideal and when the character of God, which in its essence is to be other-centered, is brightly reflected by his people, the world will once again be turned upside down – not by intimidation or coercive power – but through a much greater power: the power of humility and kindness, the power of the still small voice of truth, and the ultimate power – the power of genuine selfless love for others.