Sunday, August 13, 2017
Love One Another
John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.
Jesus is acknowledging that there is no place for hatred within the kingdom of God. The revelation of God’s transforming work in the life of a believer will be the way in which they love others. Jesus’ self-sacrificial love provides new life and transformation for all who come to him. This kind of love, a love that dies on a cross for sinners, is the kind of love that is to be seen in the lives of Jesus’ disciples. The gospel writer wants us to recognize that the great love that will be expressed in the life of Christ will be his death for you and me.
Then we see that there is an invitation into friendship. Jesus loves us, and calls us friends. We aren’t slaves or servants, but we are those who have free access to the king of all creation. Jesus has been completely transparent with his followers and invites them into a relationship where he continues to share with them his passion for the lost and his desire that they participate in his mission. Love for Jesus will be revealed in the ways in which we love others.
There was no selective love in the command from Jesus Christ. We don’t have the option of choosing to love some and not others. The overwhelming nature of holy love found in the Trinity overflows into the lives of those who are in fellowship with God. We love the world as God loves us as a result of the overflow of God’s love. If we are not loving others, then we cannot be in love with Jesus Christ, it's that simple.
If we find ourselves struggling to love someone, it says more about us than it does about them. There will always be people in this world who will be different from us and who will annoy us in one way or another. Jesus never said it was easy to love others. I’m guessing the disciples had plenty of opportunity to drive him a bit crazy, but Jesus never gave up, even when betrayed by them. We have a choice when we struggle to love those who may be unlovable. We may choose to be critical and provide ourselves with all the excuses possible for disregarding this individual, or we can begin to ask God to search out the deepest recesses of our hearts so that they can be filled with holy love. There may be something about a particular individual that is annoying and irritating, but what we fail to see is that we allow their characteristics to become barriers to the flow of God’s love in our own lives. We are the ones who will suffer from the loss of God’s presence.
At the same time we examine ourselves to see whether it is simply our own prejudices that are creating barriers toward others. Far too often throughout history people have simply hated others for the sake of hatred. Or, people have refused to love others because of their own woundedness. Loving and embracing others is a humbling experience, one in which we intentionally consider the needs of others over our own. We may be trying to create a protective barrier, becoming critical of others in an effort to built up ourselves. It never works out all that well and the one who suffers is you.
There is no place for hatred or prejudice among God’s people. When we try to rationalize our inexcusable behaviors, we are not responding as the children of God. Considering the behavior of God’s people through the ages, there was no logical reason for Jesus to lay down his life, but he did. When we stand and sing, “I am a friend of God” may we remember that there is an expected response to that friendship that is revealed in love for others.
Lord, help me to love as you love. Shine your light on the dark corners of my heart that need to be filled with your love and may that love overflow to those who may be difficult to love. Amen.