John 15: 12-17 NLT This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.
Recently we had the opportunity to visit with a member of the Navajo Nation. In doing our research while visiting Native American regions, we learned how to have cultural etiquette when engaging with Indigenous people. I must say I was nervous to speak and say the wrong thing. It was important to me that I honor his culture and traditions. Fortunately he was understanding of my naiveté, and took pride in teaching us about his culture and the history of his tribal members.
It was sad to hear the fate of his grandfather and his ancestors when Kit Carson, under orders of the United States government, drove them from their homeland. At one point in the journey, they were made to cross the Rio Grande through the deep end, where many drowned. Upon arrival to their designated new homeland, they were left to rebuild their homes in a barren area with no resources.
When Jesus commanded us to love others in the same way He loves us, He was referring to an action, not a feeling. Regardless of history, culture, generational biases, or ignorance, we are to love. To do that it is important to learn about others. To hear their history, to watch the expressions on their faces, to feel their sadness as they bravely tell their story. Everyone has a story and they are hoping someone will just listen and be loved – regardless of their history.
We hear about so much hate in our country, but the hard-hitting truth is we have a role in changing that. We can’t just judge, blame or live in oblivion, we must make a conscious effort to show how a life with Jesus can change us – and how it can change others. However, we can’t do this on our own, we need God. As our faith grows through the pruning process, we begin to recognize the Holy Spirit residing in us, filled with the love of Jesus. All we have to do is be the conduit that shows this love to others. We do this by remaining in Him, allowing His love to flow through us, empowering us to live the command: love each other.