“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else” (1 Thess. 3:12, NIV).
Jesus prayed to His Father that His followers would “be one as we are one” (John 17:22, NIV). Summarize what Jesus was saying here, focusing specifically on the role of love needed in order to achieve this oneness.
Unity among His followers was on Jesus’ mind in this prayer. Experiencing agape love is essential to this unity. “Agape” is the Bible word for God’s love used in this prayer and in many other places in the New Testament. Such love is God’s very nature (1 John 4:8), and it identifies Jesus’ followers (John 13:35). God’s love is not natural to the sinful human heart. It comes into one’s life as Jesus dwells with the believer by His Spirit (Rom. 5:5; Rom. 8:9, Rom 8:11).
“Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12, NIV). The disciple John, who wrote these words, was once not lovable but proud, power-hungry, critical, and hottempered (Mark 3:17; Luke 9:54-55; see also The Desire of Ages, p. 295). Later in life he remembered how Jesus had kept on loving him in spite of these traits. Jesus’ love gradually changed John, enabling him to love others in Christian unity. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19, NKJV), he wrote, and “if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11, NKJV).