"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just as I have loved you" (John 13:34).
The early Christians were described in the following way by the second-century Athenian orator Aristides, himself a Christian:
"The Christians know God and trust in Him. They forgive those who oppress them, and make them their friends. They are good to their enemies. Their wives keep marriage pure; their daughters are chaste. They love one another. They do not refuse to help widows. When they see a stranger, they receive him in their house, and rejoice at him as at a brother. If any among them is poor or in need, they fast for two or three days in order to satisfy his needs. They obey conscientiously the commandments their Messiah has given them. Every morning and every hour they praise God and thank Him for His goodness. They are the source of all that is beautiful in the world. They do not speak publicly of their good deeds, but take good care not to be observed by any man. They are in truth a new people, and there is something divine in them."
I wonder if the church could still be described this way. No, I pray that it can be! Yes, I pray that Our Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church, the congregation I pastor, can be described this way, by God's gracious working!
Holding this description together is the new commandment. And holding that together is Christ's love for us.