UPDATED 11:25 ET, Dec. 9, 2019
Jesus is our perfect example of the way to live in this world. While on earth, He gave His disciples a “new” commandment, that is, “love one another” just as He loved them (John 13:34, ESV). He faithfully lived out this commandment in His life and ministry. He loved people fearlessly, unconditionally, and extravagantly.
Jesus was notoriously indiscriminate in displaying His love. No exception was ever practiced. Jesus greeted all people “as children of God” (Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 186). Refusing to give in to fear, rejection, and hatred, He crossed all kinds of boundaries—political, religious, economic, ethnic, and gender — and willingly made Himself available to everyone.
Why boundless? We all fall short of God’s will and glory (Rom. 3:23). Anything that falls short of a perfect God is sin (cf. 1 John 3:4). And all sins are equal to God, in that they separate us from Him, and made us subject to death. Paul’s declaration in Romans 6:23, “for the wages of sin is death,” applies to all sins. Human beings may rate sins, but Jesus does not. For Him our sins, whether big or small, place us in a place diametrically opposed to God and His grace.
In His display of love, He showed genuine compassion (“moved with compassion,” Matt 9:36) for all people, regardless of their social status. This expression literally means “moved in the bowel.” He felt a visceral and gut-wrenching compassion toward His children, which compelled him to take action — healing, feeding, and delivering. These life changing actions demonstrated the heart and mind of God.
Loving one another means that we treat people with respect and dignity, as Jesus did, even if they are “different” from us. The inhumanity we display toward other members of the family of God is “our greatest sin” (White, A Ministry of Healing, p. 163).
To a woman who had been severely bent over for 18 years, He declared her instantaneous freedom (Luke 13:12), and conferred on her a status equal to her male counterparts when He called her a “daughter of Abraham” (verse 16). On another occasion Jesus didn’t rebuke the bleeding woman for making him “unclean” according to the Levitical law. Rather He complemented her faith (Luke 8:48).
Jesus also treated those who didn’t think the way He did with respect, ultimately transforming some of their lives. As the Rich Ruler chose money over Him, Jesus still “looked at him and loved him” (Mark 10:21). Jesus willingly participated in a debate with Nicodemus, who questioned His teaching, eventually leading him to become one of His followers (White, The Desire of Ages, p. 177). In fact, the most beloved passage in the Bible (John 3:16) was uttered in His engagement with Nicodemus.
Through such genuine acts of love and kindness, walls of hostility were destroyed. A bridge was built over the deep chasm of sin that separated humans from God. God’s family was also reclaimed and reborn. Humanity was restored. The dignity of all persons made in the image of God was upheld. Humanity now has direct access to God and His amazing grace.
Jesus invites us today to live a life that faithfully points to and mirrors Him. Good news for the world and an opportunity for us as a church to reflect the character of His kingdom.