A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another. John 13:34
Love is certainly a popular subject. We dream about it. We fantasize about it. We think about it. We romanticize it. We read about it. We sing about it. We act upon it. We abuse it. We want to love and be loved. We dedicate a whole day to celebrate it. As we read the Gospels, we see Jesus talking more and more about love, particularly as he approached the cross. How should we as medical professionals properly share the love of Christ with our patients and colleagues?
We read in the Bible that God is love. But what exactly does this mean? How did Jesus use this word? Repeatedly, during the week before he was crucified Jesus teaches the disciples about true love. Love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another (John 13:34). If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15). And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him (John 14:21). If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word (John 14:23). As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love (John 15:9). These things I command you, that you love one another (John 15:17).
The context of these statements is Jesus humbling himself to wash the feet of his disciples, his teaching on obedience to God’s word, his predicting of suffering to come for himself and his disciples.
The Greek word used for this type of love is agape, meaning self-sacrificial. Christ sacrificed in leaving the Father, becoming fully human and dying for us. The Father sacrificed in sending his Son knowing he would have to suffer on our behalf. Jesus demonstrates a perfect love of obedience to the Father on behalf of those who did nothing to merit his love.
This self-sacrificing love for one another is further defined in 1 Corinthians 13. This type of love does what is right for the other person, not what is most advantageous for ourselves. So at the end of the day when you review the patients you examined and the colleagues you worked with, will you be able to say you were patient, kind, not envious, boastful or proud? That you were not easily angered, self-seeking or delighted in what was evil, but rejoiced in the truth, always protected, trusted, hoped and persevered?
If you strive to do these things you will understand and know true love and be able to share the love of Christ with one another and the people who come to us for loving care.
Read and meditate on John 13-16, 1 Corinthian 13.