“Have Love Among Yourselves”
“I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.”—JOHN 13:34, 35.
What It Means: Christ told his followers to love one another the way that he loved them. How did Jesus love them? His love transcended the national and gender bias prevalent in his day. (John 4:7-10) Love moved Jesus to sacrifice his time, energy, and personal comfort in order to help others. (Mark 6:30-34) Finally, Christ showed love in the greatest way possible. “I am the fine shepherd,” he said. “The fine shepherd surrenders his soul in behalf of the sheep.”—John 10:11.
How Early Christians Measured Up: In the first century, Christians called each other “brother” or “sister.” (Philemon 1, 2) People of all nations were welcomed into the Christian congregation, for they believed that “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for there is the same Lord over all.” (Romans 10:11, 12) After Pentecost 33 C.E., the disciples in Jerusalem “went selling their possessions and properties and distributing the proceeds to all, just as anyone would have the need.” For what purpose? So that those newly baptized could remain in Jerusalem and continue “devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles.” (Acts 2:41-45) What motivated such actions? Less than 200 years after the death of the apostles, Tertullian quoted what others said of Christians: “How they love one another . . . and how they are ready even to die for one another.”
Who Fit the Pattern Today? The book The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1837) observed that over the centuries those who professed to be Christians “have inflicted far greater severities on each other, than they had experienced from the zeal of infidels [unbelievers].” A recent U.S. study found a strong link between religious people—most of whom identified themselves as Christian—and racial bias. Churchgoers in one land are often unaffiliated with those of the same denomination in another land and are thus unable or disinclined to help fellow believers when a need arises.
In 2004, after Florida was hit by a string of four hurricanes in two months, the chairman of Florida’s Emergency Operations Committee checked to ensure that their supplies were being used properly. He said that no other group was as well organized as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and he offered to provide any supplies needed by the Witnesses. Earlier, in 1997, a relief team of Jehovah’s Witnesses with medicine, food, and clothing traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to assist their Christian brothers and others in need. Fellow Witnesses in Europe had donated supplies totaling a million dollars (U.S.).