The challenge of adhering to Jesus’ command to “love one another as I have loved you,” as recounted in the Gospel of John (13:34), poses a significant conundrum in both religious and moral dimensions. Let us explore the reasons why people often struggle to live up to this profound directive.

Psychological Barriers

One of the primary reasons people find it difficult to follow Jesus’ instruction to love one another deeply involves psychological constraints. Human emotions such as envy, pride, and anger can overshadow the capacity for unconditional love. Additionally, psychological theories like those of Sigmund Freud suggest that human beings are inherently driven by self-interest and instinctual desires that can conflict with altruistic love. The concept of the ‘ego’ or ‘self’ in psychology contends that individuals are often centered around their personal needs and security, which can hinder the selfless nature of the love Jesus advocated for.

Sociocultural Influences

Sociocultural factors also play a crucial role in shaping how individuals interpret and practice the commandment of love. In many societies, cultural narratives and values emphasize competition, success, and individualism more than communal well-being or altruistic love. For instance, in capitalist societies where material success is often a significant measure of life’s worth, the self-sacrificing love Jesus spoke of can be seen as contrary to personal advancement. Additionally, social divisions based on race, class, religion, or nationality can create barriers that make it challenging for people to love others who are perceived as different or outside their group.

Theological Interpretations

Theological interpretations of scripture can sometimes complicate adherence to Jesus’ command. Different denominations and religious leaders might emphasize certain aspects of Christian doctrine over others, potentially underplaying the radical nature of Jesus’ love. Moreover, the historical context of Jesus’ teachings and the metaphorical language used in the Bible can lead to varied interpretations of what it means to love like Jesus did, with some believers focusing more on spiritual love rather than practical, actionable expressions of love in everyday life.

Personal Struggles and Spiritual Growth

On a personal level, following Jesus’ command to love as he did is a lifelong spiritual challenge that requires continuous self-examination and growth. The Christian concept of sin recognizes that all humans are inherently flawed and that these flaws can lead to failures in loving others as Jesus loved. The process of sanctification in Christian theology is the gradual journey toward becoming more like Christ, including growing in love, which acknowledges that failing to love perfectly is part of the human condition.


The difficulty in adhering to Jesus’ command to love each other as he loved us stems from a complex interplay of psychological, sociocultural, and theological factors, compounded by personal spiritual struggles. Despite these challenges, this command remains a central tenet of Christian ethics, calling believers to aspire towards a higher standard of love. It serves not only as a spiritual directive but also as a moral challenge to continually strive for greater compassion and empathy in a world rife with division and self-interest. The journey toward loving as Jesus loved is arduous and continuous, reflecting the profound challenge of embodying such unconditional love in the complexities of human life.