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Soar Like Eagles: The Gospel of John #19 “Get Close To Each Other!”John 15:9-12

30 Jun

(John 15:9 NIV)  “”As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”

(John 15:12 NIV)  “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

If the church of our Lord has been given to any one sin through the years, it would have to be the sin of discord and its related vices.

Some people can fight (and eventually split) at the drop of a hat. The list continues to grow and it’s to our shame as a fellowship that we don’t do a better job standing firmly upon truth while realizing the difference between faith and opinion.

Terry and I have spent some wonderful time with the cutest, smartest, most adorable children in the world (our grandchildren). We’ve watched his parents work almost minute-by-minute as they seek to “train up a child” as God would want them. A young child can be excused for being selfish…wanting food when it’s hungry and wanting down when he’s been held long enough.

Those actions don’t go away through the toddler years but eventually begin to change as the child grows in years and has models of servanthood before him.

But there is simply no excuse for that “please me” selfish attitude to continue into adulthood and among Christians. The first thing we should learn as ‘baby’ Christians is that the one who is first will become last!

In our text, Jesus has explained the essential relationship of Christians to Himself, and now proceeds to show His disciples what their relationship to each other should be.

Those eight words are powerful and difficult to follow: Love each other as I have loved you.

As a parent, we often condense his message to just two words: Get along!

And we need to add two other verses here:

(John 17:20-21 NIV)  “”My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, {21} that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

One powerful purpose behind Jesus’ command to lovingly get along and forge unity from compassion was to show the world that Jesus was God’s Son. If we can’t learn to get along, and support each other, how is the world to believe that we have been touched by the Messiah?

When we fight and bicker, we become living proof that Jesus doesn’t have the power to change lives. If we have a lack of love for each other, we cut the legs out from under our evangelism and makes a mockery of our testimony.

Look at Jesus and the context of this principle

When death nears, it’s remarkable how important the shade of our sheltering friends becomes.  Not even the Son of God wanted to be alone when the shadow of the cross darkened His last days.

The differences of temperament among them (Matthew the tax collector and Simon the Zealot would have been serious rivals/enemies) and the jealousies that had arisen over the positions which they expected to hold in the coming kingdom made their group unstable.

Jesus knew that if they were to maintain an adequate testimony for Him they could do so only as a unit.  Disunity would mar their work, if indeed it did not vitate that work altogether. For this reason He gave them what many have called the 11th commandment: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

The comparative clause in verse 12 gave the standard by which all real love can be measured and understood. Christ did not ask from His disciples more than He himself gave, and He set the norm by His own life.

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV)  “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: {10} If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! {11} Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? {12} Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

How do we become people of love? How can we be transformed into an authentic community of caring people who speak to the world about real love?

  1. Jesus’ love comes from another world.

Jesus modified the word “love” in an extraordinary way: He told us we are to love one another as he has loved us! And He revealed the source of that love: from His Father.

As a Christian, I am to have for others (you) no less love than the Father has for the Son.

  1. Jesus loves with a Savior’s love.

All we need to do is think for a moment what Jesus did when He washed the feet of both Peter and Judas Iscariot to begin to remember the kind of love He had.

He looked not at the present but at the future of a person…and offered unconditional love to those around Him.

His love is not  driven by ifs or whens  such as “I’ll love you if you treat me right” or Í’ll love you when you straighten up.”

The Savior’s love is not conditioned by right behavior or a good performance. It pays no attention to IQ, bank balance, or skin color. It is blind to appearance and deaf to tone. It cares not about heritate, reputation, or rap sheet.

“Do As You Are Told!” John 15:10-11

(John 15:10-11 NIV)  “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. {11} I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

In our culture, obey has become a four-letter word. It is the tool of the dictator and the taskmaster to some.

  • We’ve replaced “do as you’re told” with “please, consider choosing to comply”
  • We’ve done away with the rules and replaced them with suggestions
  • No morals…no codes…no restrictions.

Obedience, according to these verses, is the key to joy!

“They Won’t Like You!” John 15:18-27

(John 15:18-20 NIV)  “”If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. {19} If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. {20} Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”

A German preacher named Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”

Jesus never intended that the Christian should live in pious isolation, but in active contact with the problems of men. Nevertheless, He drew a sharp line between the Christian and the “world” which comprises the mass of men who live without God.

Throughout all nature, whether in the animal or human world, there is a tendency to dislike any individual that differs from the average type.  Birds will drive from the flock one of their number that differs radically from them in plumage.

The very fact that He has chosen men out of the world places them in a different category from others.  They have a new nature, a new aim in life, a new productiveness.  The world does not understand their motives nor feel comfortable in their company.

Jesus gave three reasons why persecution will occur:

  1. “Because you are not of the world
  2. Because they do not know the One who sent Me
  3. That the word may be fulfilled

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. {20} Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master[1].’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. {21} They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.”

The chief reason, lastly, for the hatred of the world was Jesus’ exposure of its sin.  Verses 22 and 24 describe the effect of Jesus on the world.

If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. {23} He who hates me hates my Father as well. {24} If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. {25} But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.'”

The words and deeds of Christ showed by contrast how evil men can become.  Ignorance could no longer palliate their guilt.

Two antidotes to the attitude of the world are proposed in the concluding verses: the witness of the Spirit and the witness of Christians.

Jesus gives us four suggestions on how to react when the persecution starts to bewilder us:

  1. We should rely on the Holy Spirit
  2. We should stand firm and boldly testify our faith in Christ
  3. We shouldn’t stumble
  4. We shouldn’t forget we’d been forewarned

“”When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. {27} And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”

Persecution is sometimes most intense within a Christian’s own home. A husband or a wife may criticize and belittle the faith of a believing spouse. This form of persecution may be the most difficult to endure. This is surely the reason that although first-century Christians were instructed to remain with their non-Christian mates, the idea of a Christian’s marrying a non-Christian was unthinkable (1 Corinthians 7:1216, 39).

The first nine words of this verse indicate that it is not always within our power to live at peace. Sometimes our spiritual opponents will not let matters rest, and we will have to face persecution.

We should not be surprised at this, remembering Jesus’ suffering and His warning that we will also suffer for following Him. His words are our protection to keep us from stumbling!

– There is a great difference between picking a fight and enduring a persecution.

– There is a great difference between loving the world and living in the world.

– There is a great difference between running scared and running informed.

————————————————————

Jesus has warned us that persecution is to be expected by those who dare to follow Him. In some way or another, all Christians face hardship because of our faith.

When that happens, what are we to do? The answers Jesus gives us are “Remain in the vine” and “Love each other.” The day after He gave these instructions, Jesus went to the cross as the greatest demonstration of love that the world has ever seen. However, He was not loved in return. Instead, He was cursed, spit upon, beaten, humiliated, and killed. It was a terrible scene of the most irrational hatred the world has ever witnessed.

Even in this madness, Jesus demonstrated faithfulness and love. He faced persecution and showed us the way to overcome it.

Where I live, we have an expression that we use when we have had an unusually bad day. We say, “My mother always said there would be days like this.” When we are called to pay a difficult price for the privilege of wearing the name of Christ, we can, in the same way, say, “My Lord said there would be days like this.” Not only did He say that suffering would come, but He also told us what to do when it does come: Cling to the vine, and love one another!

(John 15:22-25 NIV)  “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. {23} He who hates me hates my Father as well. {24} If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. {25} But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.'”

 

 
 

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