I’ve never experienced a time like this. There is so much turmoil in our world! The unrest, the uncertainty, the tension, and the antagonism are rampant. In some ways it is a unique time but in other ways, it isn’t any different than the days when Jesus walked this earth. Therefore, I cannot leave Jesus’ teaching on abiding without pondering how it applies in the midst of all we face today.
In the final intimate setting with His disciples, knowing they would soon be floundering without Him, Jesus instructed His beloved followers, “Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13).
Such a life-giving command for those living in that period of history as well as for today. Jesus didn’t leave any room for our arguments of “maybe” or “if they will…” or “but in this case…” There is only sacrifice…giving up perceived rights, giving up self. More relationships would thrive in our lives if we would just learn that sacrifice is an essential component of any strong, loving relationship. Jesus held absolutely nothing back. He gave it all. He gave His very life. The ultimate sacrifice.
Jesus continued (vs 14), “You are my friends if you do what I command.” Want to be a considered a friend of Jesus? Then understand this..He says proof of our friendship with Him is revealed in how we love one another.
One of my all time favorite authors, Andrew Murray, said, “Nothing can be more unnatural than that Christians should not love one another, even as Christ loved them.” And Christ loved people with tenderness, with compassion, with kindness, with patience, with protectiveness, with gentleness, with fierceness and with passion. Is that how we in the church are loving our brothers and sisters today?
We can differ in our opinions about many things. That’s expected. We were created with varying passions and varying life experiences. But, friends, we can differ while maintaining respect, listening ears and gentle discussions over opposing thoughts. And then, we absolutely must agree on the non-debatable in such a powerful display of unity that the world witnesses the living Christ. It is imperative that we stand in firm alliance of the irrefutable truth of who Christ is and what He did.
The hearts of believers must be in line with God’s if we want to corporately and individually seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. And that can only happen by the commitment to abide in Him.
Jesus followed His command with an explanation about why obedience is of utmost importance. He warned believers (John 15:18-25) that the world would hate us and that persecution would exist for those placing faith in Him. Anyone who follows the One who was without sin, the One who hates what is evil, the One who reveals man’s sin and then teaches, “Go and sin no more”…that follower will be despised simply because Jesus is hated. The disciples who had committed their lives to following Jesus’ footsteps were going to need one another. We need each other!
At the hands of the gardener, from one vine, sprout many branches becoming one. That’s our visual…we are one of many branches, one in the mission of bearing fruit, one in Him. We are supposed to rest in this union.
How are we doing, Church? How are we doing?
Questions to ponder:
How have I neglected loving other believers?
Have I allowed the ugliness of pride or the desire to be right to tarnish my ability to bear fruit?
Can the world recognize that I am Jesus’ disciple by the way I love the Church?