Summary: We enjoy our best life now if we shift from a "me" to a "we" mentality
Last December 2004, Joel Osteen’s “Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential” hit the number one slot on the New York Times bestsellers list. Personally, I have qualms about its “name it and claim it” or prosperity theology. That’s why I don’t endorse the book. Publishers Weekly offered this critique of the book: “Houston megachurch pastor and inspirational TV host Osteen offers an overblown and redundant self-help debut… it’s a treatise on how to get God to serve the demands of self-centered individuals.” The root of this questionable theology is a “me” instead of a “we” mentality.
Dr. Gene Getz called this “rugged individualism.” He wrote, “Because of our philosophy of life, we are used to the personal pronouns ‘I’ and ‘my’ and ‘me.’ We have not been taught to think in terms of ‘we’ and ‘our’ and ‘us.’ … The personal dimensions of Christianity are difficult to maintain and practice unless they grow out of a proper corporate experience on a regular basis.” This morning, we start a new series on the “One Another” commands, which occurs almost 60 times in the New Testament. Dr. Rick Warren wrote, “The Christian life involves more than just believing – it also includes belonging. We grow in Christ by being in relationship to other Christians.” We experience our best life now when we shift from a “me” to a “we” mindset. We are to be other-centered, not self-centered. The title of our new series is “Our Best Life Now.” Today we are going to talk about “‘We’ instead of ‘Me.’” Let us pray first…
In his last supper with the disciples, our Lord Jesus gave this command: “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.” This is the primary, most basic “one another” command.
First, let us look at our mandate to love. Verse 34 says, “A new command I give you: Love one another.” We are COMMANDED to love each other. We are to love one another and not hate each other. We are to accept and not reject. We are to serve people and not to use them. We are to listen and not ignore. We are to give and not get. We are to support people and not desert them. We are to encourage and not discourage.
Now how can Jesus call this a “new” command when He himself said that the second greatest commandment in the Law was “Love your neighbor as yourself”? The Greek word for “new” does not really mean “different” but it means “fresh.” Remember that Jesus gave this command the night He instituted the communion to commemorate the New Covenant that he ratified with His death. “In that covenant God promised to enable His people to love by transforming their hearts and minds”. We read in Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” The New Living Translation goes like this: “And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart.” God assured us that we can obey His commands because He changed our hearts when we accepted our Lord Jesus as Savior. Truly, when God calls, He enables. Before, we cannot love others. But, with the help of God, now we can love each other. So, when we find it hard to love one another, it is not because we can’t but we won’t.
Note also that we are commanded to love “one another.” In the Greek, “one another” means “a reciprocal and mutual work on the part of believers toward one another.” That means you think of others and not yourself. Some people may ask, “Aren’t we suppose to love ourselves first before loving others?” They get that from Matthew 22:39. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But that doesn’t mean we must love ourselves. It is just another way of saying, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” As Oscar Hammerstein wrote, “Love in the heart wasn’t put there to stay. Love isn’t love ’til you give it away.”
Second, let us look at the manner or how we are to love others. Verse 34 continues, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” We are to love COMPARABLE to Jesus’ love. God’s Word translation goes like this: “Love each other in the same way that I have loved you.” Another reason why this is a “new” command is that we now have a higher standard. Before, under the Old Testament: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But now, under the New Testament: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” We are to love each other just as Christ has loved us. In fact, this is the love that God the Father has for His Son, Jesus: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.”