John 15:17 (NIV)
This is my command: Love each other.
November 9 and 10, 1913 did not bring any comforting memories to Nellie Williams. In fact those two days would continue to haunt her dreams, waking her up in a cold sweat with tears soaking her pillow. Her life would never be the same …
Hurricane-force winds squealed across Lake Erie for the duration of those two days, and the Light Vessel 82, captained by her beloved husband, Hugh, was hit head on. Overwhelmed by the ferocity of the high winds as well as the breaking waves, the crew realized that their fight for survival was hopeless.
This wasn't the only vessel to fall prey to this brutal storm. Over 250 people aboard a dozen ships lost their lives.
Storm wreckage began to wash ashore at the foot of Michigan Avenue, in Buffalo, NY. Among the debris was a piece of wood from Light Vessel 82. This piece of wood displayed a penciled message from Captain Williams to his wife. Realizing he had but moments to live, his last thoughts went to the one he loved so dearly. He wrote "Goodbye, Nellie, The ship is breaking up fast. Williams."
If love like this was our only motivation, how different this world would be. Did you know that Jesus gave us only one direct command in the whole New Testament? "This is my command: Love each other." (John 15:17 NIV)
Strangely enough, love is the one thing we struggle with the most! Marriages don't last, and any couple fortunate enough to have been married past the twenty-year mark become an icon in our society. The question they hear most often? "How did you do it?"
Undeterred Jesus repeated that same command three times in His last conversation with his disciples.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35 NIV)
Loving one another should be our only priority, not only as a benefit for ourselves, but also to others who have not heard the great news about what God has done for humanity. So many leave churches after just a couple of visits, because of the utter indifference they find among its members. Where love does not thrive, God's message is lost! In fact God's message can only thrive where love reigns! All those who do not know real love tell but a cheap imitation of the message!
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:12-13 NIV)
The love that Jesus urges us to experience is a deep committed love, one where we gladly "lay down" our lives for our friends. Now some of us may be starting to think: Do I have any real friends?
It's never too late to start having real friends. It's as simple as starting to love others the way Jesus did! Pure love is only possible when we get to know our Heavenly Father. Once we start this kind of relationship with God, we'll have no choice but to love the way He does!
Dear Lord, we pray that we would love like You love. Help us have Your love show through us so that we can lead others to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.