We talk a lot about romantic love during this time of the year as Valentine’s Day has become a very commercial way to celebrate it. Come Wednesday many Christians and non-Christians alike will be buying chocolates, flowers, sappy cards, going on dates and celebrating the occasion in various ways. What we often don’t discuss is the love of a friend.

It seems strange that when the Bible talks about love, the greatest showing of God’s love was embodied in a man and his friends. Of course, for the Son of God (God Himself) to call you friend is slightly different than the love found in our everyday friendship with people. Jesus told His disciples in John 15:12-14:

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.

Jesus’ commandment, what we call the greatest command (next to loving God) is to love one another “as I have loved you.” Jesus then goes on to define what that love looks like…to lay down one’s life for His friends. Jesus literally laid down His life for the disciples, and for all those willing to serve and follow Jesus (that’s us). If we keep His commands, we become His friends as well. And what is His command? To love as He loved. To lay down our lives for one another (this is expressed in 1 John 4:10-11 as well). That kind of love called the greatest, even greater than romantic love or any other form of love we celebrate.

It is how we love that we celebrate as Christians. We love by laying down our lives, by sacrificing ourselves to love others. If we can learn to love as true friends of Jesus, what we consider love and what we experience as love will be drastically different regardless of what relationship we examine. Let’s make ourselves friends of Jesus and keep His command today.

Michael Orr