God wants there to be strong horizontal connections between His children; we are knitted together in love (Col 2:2). David and Jonathan give us an example of what this looks like. One version of the Bible describes this relationship as ‘the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.’ (1 Samuel 18:1, ESV) We all need friendships and connections like this. Despite the rivalry which could have existed between the two (after all, Jonathan was the rightful heir to the throne, but he willingly acknowledged David as God’s chosen one), their friendship stood the test of time, adversity, opposition and distance. They were devoted to each other. They looked out for each other. They protected each other. They wouldn’t listen to those who tried to run the other down, but they cared about each other, and in doing so, they show us what it looks like to be connected by love.
This kind of deep, selfless love is what Jesus told us would distinguish us from the world and draw others to Him (see John 13:34-35, John 15:13), but so many of us settle for shallow, superficial acquaintances instead of pushing on to deeper connections. It can be hard to love others as we are commanded to, but John, in his first letter, shows us the inexorable connections between loving God and loving others:
‘Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.’ (1 John 2:9-10)
‘This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.’ (1 John 3:16-18)
‘Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.’ (1 John 4:7)
‘Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.’ (1 John 4:11-12)
‘Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.’ (1 John 4:20-21)
We can be effective witnesses only as we live out God’s life and love one another as He loves us.