Jesus was born at a time where your identity and status were defined by the family you came from, the occupation you had, the place you originated and your position in society. People from similar backgrounds remained together and group stereotypes were part of everyday culture. This group stayed away from that group, these people refused to associate with those people and reaching across the divide was almost unheard of.
Jesus came to turn that way of thinking upside down.
34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
"Love one another" sounds so cliched, like something you'd find on a Christian mug or bookmark, but to Jesus, it was the main deal.
In theory, most of us agree that it's a good idea, we want to feel loved and we like the idea of loving others...until...
someone in our family lets us down
someone at our church resists the changes we feel are essential
someone on our friends' list has political views we would spend a lifetime opposing
someone doesn't quite fit our "loveable" criteria.
"Love one another" may be seen as the soft option but it's by far the hardest. Jesus called us to love others in the same way he loved us and with that comes sacrifice. His command was clear, we are to love one another and this is how people will know who we belong to, whose disciple we are and what we believe.
This Christmas who is God asking you to love and will you be obedient to his calling?
"If the world wants peace for Christmas, could it not begin with us?
Maybe love is bigger, maybe love is stronger,
Maybe just for Christmas, or maybe longer."