As I have loved you,
Love one another.
This new commandment:
Love one another.
By this shall men know
Ye are my disciples,
If ye have love
One to another.
As recorded in both the tenth chapter of Luke and the twelfth chapter of Mark, Jesus is approached by a lawyer who asks how he is to gain eternal life. Jesus states that to gain eternal life, we are to “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Mark 12:30). He then explains how to do this in perhaps one of the simplest statements in any of the Standard Works: “Thou shalt love thy neigbour as thyself” (Mark 12:31).
The root of the gospel is love. God loved us, so He was willing to let us go into a world where we would have huge potential for both success and failure. He loved us, so He allowed His Only Begotten to come live in this world, where he was mocked, shunned, beaten, and ultimately killed, and this so that we could have access to the Atonement. God loves us, so He allows us to learn from His Son and to follow in those holy footsteps.
In his first epistle, John the Evangelist taught the best way to practice what the Savior taught during his ministry: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11).
It’s that simple, yet that complicated. “We cannot love God without loving our neighbor, and we cannot truly love our neighbor without loving God” (N. Eldon Tanner).
So here we are, living on earth, trying to overcome the natural man, and attempting to do our best to become like Christ. Perhaps what is most helpful in determining how to apply this concept is noting where this hymn is sung most often. Yes, it is in the hymn book. But, more often than not, this song is sung by primary children.
Matthew 18: 3 states: “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”It is this childlike obedience and love for the Savior that ultimately provides a path home for us. Children, by nature, love and forgive and serve. As we raise these children and prepare them for the daunting role of adulthood, we seek to prepare them to continue exemplifying this natural love, because in loving others we learn to love God and learn to love as He loves.
May we, like the children who so often sing this hymn, seek to be known as Christ’s disciples by our ability to love those around us. For in the end, God will care most about how we cared for each other, and we are all His children.