On October 8, 2013, the Federal Reserve Board released a completely redesigned $100 bill with enhanced security features. There is the color-shifting 100 on the front and the giant gold 100 on the back. There is raised printing for a textured feel and microprinting throughout the note. However, there are two very distinct security features that are worthy of special attention. The most notable is a 3-dimensional reflective band that appears to be magically woven into the bill. The ribbon is woven into the fabric, not printed on it. Also, a special liberty bell is printed near the bottom of the note as an enhanced printed layer on top of an inkwell. Tilting the note allows one to see the color-shifting bell in the copper inkwell change from copper to green. The visual effect makes the bell seem to appear and disappear within the inkwell. It’s obvious that the Federal Reserve is very serious about eradicating counterfeits. You know, Jesus had a very distinctive characteristic that He said could be used to identify the authenticity of His followers.


Read John 13:34-35

The reason why this is so significant is because we have constructed a litany of characteristics that supposedly determine whether one is a true follower of Christ. Some would say that it’s glossolalia, or speaking in an unknown tongue; others might say that it’s baptism that is specifically in the name of Jesus; others say it must be in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. There are those who believe it to be access to secret knowledge. Some say it’s strict adherence to dietary laws, or adherence to particular worship days. However, there is only one special determinant to definitively identify the followers of Jesus, and Jesus gave it Himself: love. John 13:35 is one of the most iconic sayings of Jesus. It is so iconic because it encapsulates the totality of the Christian experience. If we do this one thing it will cover all the bases and check all the boxes.

Read 1 Corinthians 13

The fact is, love is hard work. Whenever I read 1 Corinthians 13, I immediately see all the ways that I fall short. When we look closely at all the nuances of what real love is like, it almost seems like an impossibility. When we see our inadequacy in failing to love well, it should drive us to seek God for a new heart, and the ability to love well. Who’s the most loving person you know? Think of three living people you know who are the most loving. Reflect on their manner of being. If possible, reach out to them to inquire what they think the secret of love is.

Read Romans 13:8-10 

Notice that Jesus didn’t say that we would know by the day they worship if we are His followers. He didn’t say that we would know by the special teachings we espouse that we are His followers. He didn’t say that we would know by a strict adherence to health food choices that we are His followers. The one thing that He said would distinguish us is our love. This single element is the essential ingredient of the Christian experience, and it is distillation and the summation of Christianity as a whole. While Jesus did say, “If you love me keep my commandments,” He also said that love for God and neighbors was the summation of the law and the prophets. And further, that people would know we are Christians by the love we have for others.

Read Galatians 6:1-2, 10

Jesus said, “By this will all men know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” Let’s look a little closer at this. Jesus didn’t actually say people will know us by the love we have for everyone we meet. He actually said, people would know by the love they had for “each other.” Allow me to explain it this way. Think of your neighbors. I know this might be a stretch for some people but imagine that you absolutely love your neighbors. Imagine that you’re very close to them. You might even consider them to be a part of the family, but you still love and care for your family more. What are some ways we can make sure we offer special support and care for those within the family of believers?

Read Read 1 John 4:7-21

“There are many who have a circumstantial religion, which is in accordance with what they meet in the family and in their business relations with each other. This affects their religion. Their words are not right. They are not kindly, courteous, [and] respectful to one another. When you have a full salvation, it will be when you have dug out by the roots the root of selfishness, that bitter root which divides hearts. God expects altogether a different spirit than has been revealed on this ground. God calls for you to make an entire surrender, not a few outward changes. He calls for every soul to seek the Lord for his own present and eternal good. It is pitiful to see what little faith and love is manifested for God and for one another. The apostle represents this as biting and devouring one another. What a representation! We should love one another as Christ has loved us”  (E.G. White, Manuscript 160, 1898).

Read Ephesians 3:17-19

“Yet, love of the helpless one, love of the poor and the stranger, are the beginning of brotherly love. To love one’s flesh and blood is no achievement. The animal loves its young and cares for them. The helpless one loves his master, since his life depends on him; the child loves his parents, since he needs them. Only in the love of those who do not serve a purpose, love begins to unfold. Significantly, in the Old Testament, the central object of man’s love is the poor, the stranger, the widow and the orphan, and eventually the national enemy, the Egyptian and the Edomite. By having compassion for the helpless one, man begins to develop love for his brother; and in his love for himself he also loves the one who is in need of help, the frail, insecure human being. Compassion implies the element of knowledge and of identification. “ou know the heart of the stranger,” says the Old Testament, “for you were strangers in the land of Egypt;. . . therefore love the stranger!” (Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving, 48).

Reread John 13:34-35 and 1 Corinthians 13

Make three separate lists of the ways in which we might demonstrate greater love for (1) strangers and acquaintances; (2) friends, neighbors, and coworkers; and (3) family and church members/fellow believers.



Christopher C. Thompson  is an adjunct professor in the School of Religion and Theology at Oakwood University. He serves as the Executive Director of Thumbs Up, Inc., and pastor of Lighthouse Church in Beaufort, South Carolina.


This article is part of our 2023 November/December Issue
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A REFLECTION : The New Commandment

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34, 35, KJV).

These are the credentials that Christ’s followers bear, showing to the world that they are true disciples. By their unity and love for one another, they reveal to the world the love wherewith Christ has loved them. God would have us cherish love for one another, that he may be glorified in us. Love like Christ’s will bear the stress of circumstances. It will never abate nor change. As he loved us, even so are we to love one another.

Religion is founded upon love to God, which also leads us to love one another. It is full of gratitude, humility, long-suffering. It is self-sacrificing, forbearing, merciful, and forgiving. It sanctifies the whole life and extends its influence over others. Those who love God cannot harbor hatred or envy. When the heavenly principle of eternal love fills the heart, it will flow out to others, not merely because favors are received of them, but because love is the principle of action, and modifies the character, governs the impulses, controls the passions, subdues enmity, and elevates the affections. This love is not contracted, so as merely to include “me and mine,” but is as broad as the world and as high as heaven. It is in harmony with that of the angel workers. This love, cherished in the soul, sweetens the entire life, and sheds a refining influence on all around. Possessing it, we cannot but be happy, let fortune smile or frown. And if we love God with all the heart, we must love his children also. 

– The Youth Instructor, December 23, 1897


ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

This article is part of our 2023 November/December Issue
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*You can read The Desire of Ages in its entirety online at

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