Love is the mark of a follower of Jesus. Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) In my first 20 years of making disciples I followed the “one-on-one” discipling model. But after studying the discipling methods of Jesus, I decided to pull my disciples together one night a week at my apartment to form a community. I was in for a shock. Not only did these guys not love one another, but some of them did not even get along with one another.
I realized that sitting in a Starbucks a guy could snow me by giving the impression that all his relationships were healthy, but in a community with other believers his relational fault lines are exposed and his true character is revealed. Finding oneself in authentic community can stir up old fears and insecurities. Over the next several months I was coaching the guys individually on how to love the others and how to receive love. I would have to teach Tim specifically on how to love John. Some of the men did not believe they could ever be loved. I remember Grant working hard to learn how to receive friendship from the other men in the group.
Jesus took 30 months with his disciples to shape their community and to exhibit his love for them. Jesus then instructed the disciples to love one another with the same love that He had for them, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) For eternity God’s love has been revealed in the community of the Father, Son, and Spirit, so then, our love for one another as disciples is an illustration of God’s love to the world.