9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept 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. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL
VERSION ®. NIV®. COPYRIGHT © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by
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- How do we remain in the Lord’s love according to the text?
- What is the relationship between love, obedience, and a relationship with the Lord?
- Whose love comes first? Why does that matter? What happens if you switch the order?
- In the text, we are told to love one another. How does our ability to love each other help or hinder the advancement of the gospel?
- What are some current obstacles that you face to loving others? What adjustments can you make?
- How does the gospel help you to become a more loving person?
In the Vine
*This transcript is generated from the sermon audio. This document has not been edited for spelling, grammar, or exactness.
All right, church family, if you would please grab a Bible and get with me in John, chapter 15. John, chapter 15 is where we’re at. Last week, we were cruising through John, chapter 15, and we didn’t make it very far. So we’re going back and we’re going to look at the entire chapter again, but I’m going to focus in on verses nine to 17 now. So I will read the passage. I’ll read the passage in its entirety, verses one to 17. And then we’re going to spend our time looking specifically at verses nine to 17. John, chapter 15. If you’re grabbing a Bible that we have here, john chapter 15 is on page 928. 928. Let’s read verses one to 17. We’ll pray once more, and we’ll get to work. It reads like this. This is the Lord speaking. He says,
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I’ve spoken to you. Remain in me as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself. It must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine. I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing if you do not remain in me. You are like a branch that is thrown away, and withers such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I’ve called you friends. For everything that I learned from my Father, I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, and so that whatever you ask in My name, the Father will give you. This is my command. Love each other.
Let’s pray. Lord, we thank you for Your word, and we pray that by Your spirit, through Your Word, you would speak. We want to hear Your voice loud and clear, and we want to be a people who are obeying Your commands, who are remaining in Your love and obeying Your commands and loving each other. And so, Lord, help us to do that, please. We pray in Jesus name, amen. Amen.
As we saw last week, there was a metaphor that was given. The Lord says, I am the vine, and we are supposed to remain in the vine, that we are supposed to relate to Him in a particular way. And because of that, then there will be fruit that is evidenced in our lives. This fruit is dependent upon the relationship that we have with the Lord, and that’s what he was teaching us last week. And that the fruit that we produce is to God’s glory. But a metaphor is actually a very confusing thing. Some of us really love metaphors. Some of us that are intuitive people, we kind of feel our way into stuff. And so when concepts are presented in metaphorical language, we love it. We just kind of relate to that. Not all of us, though. Okay, for instance, my wife, Ashley, she hates not hates that’s too strong of a word. One of her pet peeves is idioms, like sayings that we have that we use to convey things, but we never really think about what they mean or the words that actually communicate them. In fact, I have a bunch of them, and she gives me a hard time because she calls them my old man, sayings, like, the things that I say that make me sound like I’m 80 years old. So when we talk about the metaphor of the vine, it’s one of those concepts in Scripture that we go, yeah, that sounds great core, but what does that really mean? I mean, if Jesus is the true vine and we’re supposed to remain in Him, what on earth does that look like? What would that actually entail? And so in verses one to eight, we get the metaphor explained. And then in verses nine to 17, it’s applied. It’s taking the concept, and it’s bringing it down to kind of the level of practical application. And it says, this is what it looks like. So we take this concept that’s very high in the sky. That’s an idiom right there. I don’t know if you’ve ever looked up and gone, man, that pie looks amazing. I wish it were down here so I could eat it. See, that’s an idiom. But what we’re doing is we’re taking a concept that’s metaphorical, and we’re bringing it down to, okay, what does it look like for us to live this thing out? What does it look like in real time to apply this thing? Well, we find here two different things that the Lord tells us to do. Two commands. If you will. We’re commanded to remain in his love and he’ll tell us how to do that and we’re commanded to love each other. So the metaphor of the vine and the fruit has these two different points of application. Remain in the love of Christ and love each other. And he’s going to show us the connectedness here in a moment. Let’s get to work.
REMAIN IN HIS LOVE
Command number one, remain in his love. Verses nine to eleven. Verse nine. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. He’s saying, God loves you. And Jesus is saying, I have loved you like the Father has loved me. Now what you need to do is stay put in that love, to remain there in that love. But you are able as a follower of Christ, to experience the love of God. It is participation in the love of God. Mickey, my friend in Roscoe, he puts it like this. The very love of the Father for the Son has been distributed to the disciples through Christ in a remarkable and unexplainable way. The relationship between the Father and the Son is the type and origin of the relationship between the Son and the disciples. So how God loves His Son now becomes the way that we experience love. Just like the father loves the son. Jesus says, I love you. Like that. Jesus loves me. This I know, for the Bible tells me so, right? The Bible is saying you are loved by God. We are the recipients then of love. And the command that we’re given is stay put, god loves you, so remain in that place where you experience love. So it’s kind of like this. My son, he’s eight years old, he got a telescope and so we were aiming it at the moon. And that is incredibly difficult. I had no idea how hard it was to aim a telescope. So after a long amount of time of trying to get that thing lined up and the moon’s moving by the, you know, we’re trying to get that thing going. All right, Harrison, it’s lined up, you can look at it and what does he do? Okay, cranks on it. He’s like looking at the wall. Where is it, dad? And it’s like, no, we have to stay here. Okay, so we get it all going. That’s what the Lord is saying here. He’s saying the love of God is something that you can experience, but it’s very important that you don’t just grab hold of it and go, well, I’m just going to haul off and do my own thing. It’s saying the Lord loves you. The command that he’s giving us is to stay put in that love. You go, okay, what on earth does that mean? Well, we’ll look at it in just a moment. But I want you to notice first the chronology, the order in which this all unfolds. And this will be very, very important as we get to application. But the thing that we have to note here is the way in which he describes his love coming first as the Father has loved me, so I love you, period. Now you remain in my love. He loves us first. His love predates our love. He went first. So if we’re trying to put a timestamp on who loved first, it’s the Lord. His love predates ours. In fact, John, who’s writing this, he later writes a letter and a lot of these concepts he rehearses in his letters. But in one, John 419, he puts it like this we love because he first loved us. So when we start to apply this thing, we recognize the chronology. God loved me and I received that and I experienced that, and I remain in that. And because of that love, now I can go and love other people, but we have to keep that order in mind because if we switch it up, we actually get ourselves in trouble. We start to think of it in terms of if I can do what God wants me to do, then he’ll love me. And that is not the Gospel. That is the exact opposite of the Gospel. God loves us first and then we respond to that love by loving others as well. Romans, chapter five, verse ten, puts it like this. It says, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of his son. It’s saying, we experienced the love of God before we ever deserved it. We were enemies of God, and he did that. He loved us first. While we were his enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son. So that order is very, very important, and you’ll see that here in a moment. But he says, I’ve loved you, now remain in My love. And the opposite of remain is to depart it’s to peace, out is to experience the love of God and say, okay, I’m going to go try something different. But he tells us here, how do we remain? How do we do this? And he tells us very plainly in verse ten, here’s how it happens if you keep my commands, you will remain in My love, just as I kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in My love. So that’s the way that we remain. It’s being aware of his commandments and then it’s the keeping of them. And this is interesting, isn’t it? We’ve bumped into it a couple of times now in these final lessons of the Lord, where he makes this connection between love and obedience to the commands. There’s a connection here and sometimes we get ourselves off track when we think about these things. But he’s saying, if you keep my commands, you will remain in My love. So obedience in the life of a believer is not some elective thing that we do. Obedience in the life of the believer is the way that we express our love and commitment to the Lord. We love Him, therefore we keep his commands. Now, that might feel weird to you when I say it out loud, but there’s this direct correlation between the intimacy of our relationship with the Lord and our willingness to hear what he says to us and obey those things. I’ll try to tease it out in a couple of different illustrations. The first one will make a lot of sense. When you have a child in a healthy parent child relationship, there’s an immediate experience of love. You look at that child and they look weird, and they’re not doing anything for you. They’re crying, they’re making a mess. But you look at that child and you go, I love you. Right? A parent just has that intuitive love that this child is my child and I love it incredibly. Now, as the child gets older, the parent gives instructions and teaching and commandments, if you will. The parent says, hey, I want you to live a healthy and productive life, so I’m older than you. Let me help you. Let me tell you what would be in your best interest. And the relationship is still a relationship of love. But listen, if the child persistently says to the parent, I don’t care what you have to say, I’m not listening to you. If there’s a constant disregard to the words of the parent, the intimacy of the relationship suffers. The relationship of love is still there. The parent can’t help it but to love their child. But the experience of the relationship is jeopardized because if you’re unwilling to listen to the heart and the command and the will of the other person, if you persist in that, then you’re actually doing damage to the intimacy of that relationship. So by listening, you’re loving. By listening, you’re placing yourself in a way in which you can continue to relate and experience more and more of that relationship. The same thing is true in a marriage. If you’re married and you say, I don’t give a rip what the other person says, I’m going to do what I want to do. Well, what are you doing to your marriage? You’re doing harm. If you’re unwilling to listen to the heart of the other person and the things that they would want for you to do, then you’re actually jeopardizing your relationship. So when we apply this to Christianity and we recognize God’s heart is revealed to us through his commandments, he tells us, knowing way more than we could ever know, he tells us what would be in our best interest and for our good. And he tells us, this is how I’d love for you to live. And if we say, I don’t care, we’re actually jeopardizing our relationship with Him. So he says to us, if you love me, keep my commands. If you love me, keep my commands. And then we would think, man, I want to obey the things that he’s telling me because I have experienced his love. And his commands then actually become a source of our joy. As we’ll find in just a moment, we come to see the commands not as a burden, but as a delight. And in fact, I love how Scott Hafeeman puts it. He says that this is one of my favorite one liners from a commentator. He says, the commands of God are all promises in disguise. When God is telling us to do something, it’s not because he’s trying to restrict our lives and our joy. He’s actually trying to show us this is the way to experience the goodness of God in the world. Well, again, we need to recognize the order here. We obey his commands because we’ve experienced his love. We don’t obey to try to get his love. We already have it. That’s what verse nine tells us. We obey because we’ve been loved and we want more of it. We’ve been loved and we recognize that if we will continue to listen to the voice of the Lord, we’ll move toward Him in intimacy and friendship with Him. And so that’s the gospel dynamic at play, that Christians obey the commands of the Lord because they love Him. And then we experience joy. Look at verse eleven. I have told you this. The Lord says so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. He’s not telling us to obey his commands because he’s bossy. He’s not telling us to obey his commands because he just wants us to be good little boys and girls doing everything that he says. He says, no, I’m revealing my heart to you, and through that you will experience joy. I want my joy to be in you, and I want your joy to be complete. And he’s showing us the way to that. He’s telling us that obedience as a Christian is joy. It’s joy. It is a delight. It is a delight to hear the voice of the Lord and to move toward Him in obedience of faith. You guys know, most of you know I love John Bunyan. He wrote Pilgrim’s Progress, and we actually have the kids version out there if you want to purchase one. But John Bunyan wrote the Pilgrim’s Progress. I think it’s the greatest story outside of the Bible. But I was thinking about him this week, and if you’re familiar with church history, this will be a poor man’s version of what was really going on. You can look it up for yourself. But John Bunyan lived in a time when the relationship between the church and state was very not only complex, because it’s always been that, but it was actually very unhealthy. And because Christianity became a state religion, it meant that the government had jurisdiction over pastors and church services and all these different things and there was a tremendous amount of overreach. And so out of conviction and a matter of conscience, there was a group that were called nonconformists people who said, I can’t do whatever the government tells me to do. I’m going to have to listen to what God says, and there are going to be times where I have to break ranks from what the nation is telling me to do, what the government is telling me to do. John Bunyan was one of those dudes. He was a non conformist and that’s why he was imprisoned, because he had convictions that he said, I can’t live out my calling as a preacher under these restrictions. And so he was imprisoned. And it was a very difficult thing for he and his family because he was married. It was his second wife. His first wife had died and he was married and he had children and one of his children were blind. And so that was the stepchild of his current wife and she was looking after all these different kids. And he’s in prison, in the Bedford Prison for twelve years. And it was very difficult on him and on his family, obviously, but he had these convictions that led him to these conclusions. And the reason I tell you a little bit about the background is because you’ll hear the concern in the critique that was offered of him. You see, in a situation like that where the government has jurisdiction over the church, they get to set the rules and they can actually, by coercion, force people to behave as Christians. So I’ll give you an example of this. During that time, church attendance was something that you could get a citation for, that a police officer, I suppose, could come to your house on Monday morning and go, why weren’t you at Park City yesterday? And you go, oh, I slept in. I’m sorry, my alarm didn’t go off. And they say, we’ll take it before the courts. By the way, some preachers I know would love that law to be in effect nowadays. But Bunyan out of his convictions. He said, Listen, we can’t legislate obedience. We have to help people come to see the beauty of what God has done [so that they] want to obey him. So, here’s the critique. There was a group of people, this was religious leaders, and they put it like this to him. They said to “Bunyan, you cannot keep assuring people of God’s love because if you keep assuring people of God’s love, they’ll do whatever they want.” In other words, the concern was the tone that you have, the style of preaching, that you have the way that you communicate God’s love irrespective of people in their obedience, their personal commitment to the things of God. You’re actually creating an environment where people are going to abuse the grace of God. They’re going to hear your message and come to the conclusion, I don’t have to do these things, I don’t have to obey. I don’t have to do what God wants me to do. I just get his grace. And so the religious leaders said, you can’t keep doing that. You’re creating a problem for us. “You cannot keep assuring people of God’s love, because if you keep assuring people of God’s love, they’ll do whatever they want.” And Bunyan replied, “No, if I keep assuring them of God’s love, they will do whatever He wants them to do.” That’s the gospel dynamic that Jesus is teaching here. He’s saying, I want you to keep my commands as an expression of love and a pathway to joy. I want you to obey the commands of the Lord because you recognize that they are a gift to you to help you experience greater intimacy with the Lord himself. So Jesus is saying here I have loved you, remain in My love. If you keep My commands, you will remain in my love and it’ll be for your joy. And this should lead us to think through a couple of different things, just real quick bullet points of application. You should want to know the commands of the Lord. Then if you’re a follower of his, you should be thinking through, how can I place myself in an environment where I can learn more about what the Lord would have me to do? And I would encourage you then to attend church services where the Bible is taught and applied. There are a lot of places where that is not the case, where the Bible is not being taught. It’s more of a motivational speech footnoted with Bible verses. But attend a church where the Bible is taught and applied so you could think through what are the commands of the Lord? I want to know these things because I want to express my love to Him. You should regularly read the Bible, searching for the things that the Lord would have you to do, and you should delight in that experience. And then you should place yourself with other Christians so that you could do this in community, so that you could be encouraged in your application and also held accountable to follow through on these different things. So command number one remain in the love of the Lord.
LOVE ONE ANOTHER
Command number two is love one another. Look at verse twelve. My command is this he makes it incredibly clear, says, keep my commands. Verse twelve. My command is this love each other as I have loved you. Because here’s what you need to be doing, Christian. You need to love people just like I’ve loved you. That’s your calling. Now this is my particular command. Keep all of them for sure as an expression of love for Him. But here’s the specific one that he highlights here in our passage today. He says, My command is this love each other as I have loved you. The calling of the Christian is the call to the way of love. It’s the call to look at other people and to see opportunities to display Christlikeness to them by the way that we relate to them. He tells us what this looks like in verse 13. He says, greater love has no one than this to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. It’s the concept of a sacrificial willingness to do what is best for them. He says there’s no greater expression of love than a willingness to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of another person. Oh, and by the way, you cannot read this without thinking about the next four chapters. You cannot read this without thinking about wait a minute. That’s exactly what he’s doing. He’s preparing his friends for his greatest expression of love. That will come momentarily that he’s going to go to the cross and suffer and die. It’s the good news of the Gospel that God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish, but would have life eternal with Him. And he accomplished that by going to the cross. He accomplished that by laying down his life in our place called the Great Exchange. He says, Listen, I’ll take the penalty for your sin. I’ll take that on myself and the perfect righteousness of my life that I have achieved, I’ll give that to you. I’ll gift you with my righteousness. I’ll take the penalty for your sin. We’ll make that switch and I’ll go to the cross and you’ll have everlasting life. What a gift, what an invitation. He says, Greater love has no one than this. That one lays down his life for his friends. And that’s exactly what he’s doing here. He’s going to the cross to make a way for people like you and I to place our faith in him and experience the love of God. Well, now he invites us to participate in that love. Verse 14 you are my friends if you do what I command. My command is this love each other as I have loved you. Here’s what that’s going to look like? It’s going to look like the cross. It’s going to have the shape of the cross. It’s going to be cruciform in the way that it expresses itself. That’s what I’m commanding you to do. Now, you are my friend if you do that, if you do what I command you. So now he’s making a decisional moment in the teaching and he’s saying, you’re my followers, but what I want you to do is I want you to from this point forward, I want you to love each other with the cross in view. I want you to love each other in the shape of the cross, being willing to die for the benefit of other people. And I’ll be honest with you, that decision is a tough one to swallow, right? A lot of people love to follow him up to this point. He’s an amazing teacher. He’s got an incredible power. He’s a healer. He does all these things for people. But we get to the point of discipleship where he says, I want you to obey my commands. And here’s what I mean love people. And we go, I don’t want to do that. But Jesus is saying, this is true, discipleship. This is what it looks like to follow him. He says, you are my friend if you do these things. This is love. John again, he would later write his letter in 1 John 3:16. He uses this teaching and this concept as the paradigm for explaining love. He says, 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 each other. The teaching so profoundly affected him that that just became the mantra of his ministry. He said, we must love each other. This is what love is. Jesus died for us. We’re to do the same thing. We’re to love each other like he loved us. Well, this is friendship with the Lord. Look at verse 15. I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends. For everything that I learned from my Father, I have made known to you. In other words, he says, I am making my heart known to you. I’m inviting you into the inner sanctum of the heart of Christ himself. You are no longer a servant, just doing what I’m telling you to do. You are now a friend because I have revealed to you. Jesus is saying, I’ve revealed to you my ministry, my purpose, my love for the world. You are now my friend because I’m showing you everything that I’ve learned from my Father and I’ve made it known to you. So he’s saying, this is what it is. This is the heart of Christ. This is the way of Christianity. This is the call to love other people. Now, we get an assurance in verse 16 because what we’re about to do is incredibly hard. And he’s aware of that. Verse 16, he says, you did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, and so that whatever you ask in my name, the Father will give you. So he’s saying, I’m calling you to love. And it’s the highest form of love. And I understand how difficult that’s going to be. Let me tell you that this is your calling. Let me assure you that this is your purpose in life. You did not choose me. I chose you. I appointed you. That’s the same word. It’s the word for set apart. It’s the word that’s used when they have a prayer meeting in Acts, chapter 13. And they’re praying and the Holy Spirit says, I want Paul and Barnabas to become missionaries. And the group. Looks at them and they say, okay, we’re setting you apart to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. You are appointed for this high and holy calling. That’s what the Lord is saying to us. He’s going, I want you to love I understand how difficult this is going to be. I am appointing you to this task, and we need this reminder because, honestly, this is going to be an incredibly difficult assignment. Bruce Milne puts it like this. He says, “During times of testing which inevitably arise in the course of mission, and which Jesus warns us about in the very next paragraph,” (what we’ll look at next week, Lord willing.) It’s going to be difficult. He says, “During these times of testing, which will inevitably arise in the course of mission… such moments of ordination” –which is the word for ‘set apart’, such moments where we were reminded of the calling that the Lord spoke over us. “Such ordination moments have a ministry of reassurance.” We need this. We need to be reminded. The Lord is saying over each of us, I’m calling you to this to love people. This is your purpose in life. This is what I have set you apart to do. And the reason why we need this is because we will often have moments of self-doubt. We will be shaken by circumstances, and things will cause us to question what we’re doing. I had one of these last week. A week ago, I had a moment where I said where I was asking a question like this. I was like, ‘What am I doing? ‘Like one of those moments where you start to look at everything going on and you just kind of ask that question. And it’s not unique to me. I think a lot of you ask that every Monday morning, right, what am I doing with my life? And you need to hear the voice of the Lord reminding you, no, I have set you apart for this very purpose. And I’m not saying you’re stuck in your crummy job that you hate. I’m saying he’s called you to love people in the places that he has appointed you to do that. That’s your life. That’s your calling. That’s your purpose. He says, I chose you and appointed you for this, that you might bear fruit, fruit that will last, fruit that will last into all of eternity. You are called to love people as an expression of the love of Christ. And you will be able to pray about this too. When we get on mission with the Lord, he gives us these incredible promises. He says, Whatever you ask in My name, the Father will give you. If you are living on mission with Christ, seeking to display the love of Christ to a watching world, you have the gift of prayer to be able to say to the Father, lord, in the name of Christ, I need help on Monday morning. When you’re asking that question lord, I need help. Remind me of my calling and then help me to do this well for Your glory. So we are called and assured to do this incredible ministry. And he reminds us then in verse 17 he reiterates the calling. Verse 17, in case we missed it, in verse twelve he says it again this is My command. Love each other. This is the bottom line. This is what the Lord is asking us to do. He is preparing his disciples to take his ministry of love and carry it forward indefinitely. He’s preparing his disciples aware that his earthly ministry is coming to a fitting conclusion and he’s preparing them to recognize in his absence this is what we do. This is the way of Christ. I am commanding you. Love each other. This is my command. We then are participating in the mission of God Himself. Jesus is telling us you get to be the expression of My love to a watching world. He’s inviting us to participate in his mission. Now, obviously we can’t do what he did. We can’t atone for the sins of other people through our own death, but we get to display what that looks like through the way that we love each other. We’re called for sure to proclaim the good news of the Gospel. And I could take you to a lot of other places in the Bible where that’s the highlight, where we’re reminded we have to talk about this. We can’t only live it. It’s a message. We actually have to declare it. We have to tell people the good news of what God has done in the sending of His Son. We have to make that message known, we have to proclaim the Gospel. But here the Lord is underlining. Not only do we proclaim it, we’re called to live it. We’re called to love people as a display of that message and its effect. We love other people and they begin to see in us the beauty of the message, the beauty of what Christ has done, the reality of its effectiveness. Francis Schaefer, he wrote an essay and it’s called The Mark of the Christian and it’s based off of John 1335 and the Mark of the Christian in the Farewell Discourse in John chapters 13 through 16 and following. The mark of the Christian is the mark of love. That’s the point that he’s making in that essay. That’s something that Jesus is showing us here in this teaching and in other places as well. A true Christian should be obvious because of the way that we love other people. And in fact, Francis Schaefer, in that essay, he says God has given this incredible thing to unbelievers, to the world, because they get to evaluate the reality of whether or not we’re Christians based on whether or not we love people. That’s startling, right? That people can observe us. According to John 1335, by this all men will know that you are my followers, that you are my disciples. How? Because you go to church? Because you sing loud? Because you raise your hands? Because you go on a mission trip? Because you serve? No, [He] says, by this, all men will know that you’re my disciples. How you love one another because of your love for each other. That’s the evidence that the Lord himself told us. Well, Schaeffer, in his little booklet, he writes like this “The church is to be a loving church and a dying culture. We cannot expect the world to believe that the Father sent the Son, that Jesus’s claims are true and that Christianity is true. Unless the world sees some reality of love and oneness in the Christians.” We can’t go out and proclaim a message or take it online and broadcast a message out there and expect for people to go, you know what? I buy into that. Unless we’re willing to kind of open up the reality of how we live together and say, look, it actually worked. He loved us, and now we love each other. And then that becomes something that kind of proves the effectiveness of the work of Christ. The church is to be a place where that is true. And I admit that we fall desperately short of this thing, but this is the high calling that the Lord places on us. He’s saying, this is my command. Love each other. This is the high calling that we would love one another as we have been loved by Christ Himself. We want our church to be a place where that’s true. And I’m going to be honest with you, that is an incredibly demanding calling, right? It means that we can’t just come to church. We can’t just attend church and sit and stare at some dude talking for a half an hour and then go, I did that one. I’m out of here. But we have to open our lives to each other in a way where love is displayed, where we look at each other and we say, I want what is best for these people, and I’m willing to inconvenience myself for their sake because Christ loved me so incredibly. This is what he’s calling me to do. This is so unnatural in our culture, but it is calling us to live in a way that is beautiful. For the sake of the beautiful message. Jesus is inviting us to live in an incredible way. He tells us to remain in his love by obeying his commands. And the command specifically is that we would love each other. By doing this, we are experiencing friendship with the Lord and intimacy with Him. He’s filling us with joy and delight because we’re coming to know Him in a more profound way. But we’re actually going to love people, and then observers are going to see that and they’re going to say, this thing worked. Natural enemies sit around the table and love each other. Natural enemies join one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, and they actually like each other. What a beautiful thing. God invites us to do this, so may we be a church that remains in his love and loves each other well, for the sake of Christ, let’s pray.
Lord, we ask right now that you would so fill us with Your spirit, that we would move in the direction of obeying your commands. Joyfully. And Lord, we acknowledge the specific command that you’ve given us today that we need to love each other. So help us to think through how we could do that today. In fact, in this moment, by your Spirit, would you please call to mind specific people that you want us to love today even before leaving? And then help us to take steps of obedience and faith to do exactly that. Help us to love each other as we have been loved by you. We thank you for the cross. We thank you for your sacrificial death in our place. We thank you that there is no greater love than that, that you laid down your life for us, so we ought to lay down our lives for each other. Lord, help us to be a church that loves each other for your sake. Amen. Amen.