I watched the news last night and it left me feeling discouraged. So much bad news, the most tiresome being the Covid pandemic. It feels as if the never-ending waves of Covid and related problems just keeps coming. This brought a question to my heart: How do I stay hopeful and centred in Christ with so much going on around me?
Jesus makes a lavish invitation in John 15:9. He says: “Just as the Father have loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
The Greek word that is used here is Meno, it can be translated to remain, stay, and reside or live in. It means to make your home in a place or a condition. So, when Jesus invites us to abide in his love, he is actually saying "make your home in my love." He is inviting us to live right in the centre of the lavish love that is shared by the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Remaining means choosing to stay in the love of Jesus
The circumstances of this verse are a conversation between Jesus and his disciples during a very sad time. Jesus was getting ready for his crucifixion. He was about to leave his disciples and he knew the time he had left with them was precious and limited. He wanted to make sure he gave them some last, very important information on how they will continue to follow him, even when he was no longer with them. He knew that they were afraid, and filled with sorrow and confusion. So, Jesus assures them of his undying love for them and invites them to live in his love. He promises that they will thrive and have fruitful lives if they lived in his love.
Jesus knew that it was difficult for them to understand it, so he made an example. He said that they were supposed to abide in him, the same way a branch stays in the vine. He was the vine, and they were the branches, and just as a branch dries up and dies when it is cut off from the vine, so his followers would dry up and die if they disconnect themselves from him.
1. What is this love?
God the Father is the source of this love, Jesus said: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” 15:9. It is God’s faithful generous and unconditional love. In the Old Testament God is always described as “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” Exodus 34:6. In John's epistle it says "God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God" (1 John 4:9-17).
It’s more than feelings, but it is always manifested in actions. The Father loved us so much, he gave his son, and the son loved us so much, he lays down his life on the cross. Jesus is the expression of the lavish, faithful love of God.
Trying to define the love of God is an impossible task. The best way is to think about it is to remember what the love of God has meant in your own life. To me, God’s love became my home when my own home was plagued by alcoholism, and domestic violence. As a child my local church was a place where I felt safe, nourished and accepted. It was where I learned about and received the love of Jesus. It is that love that changed the trajectory of my life. God's love has proven faithful and consistent in my life when I lost my way or forgot about him. The Father always pursued me, always forgave me.
How have you experienced the love of Christ in your life?
2. How do we abide in the love of Christ?
Jesus said that we remain in his love when we keep his commandments. His commandment is that we love one another as he loved us.
How did Jesus love us? He laid down his life for his friends. The greatest love of all is not to love yourself, but it is to sacrifice your own life for others. This is in opposition to the culture of the world that says: me first, my rights, my opinions and my space and resources. This Christ-like love gives up everything, denies self and is even willing to die.
But this radical self-less love is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. In John 14:15, Jesus also insist that they must remain in his love, but this time he says that the Father will give them the Holy Spirit to be in them and with them. The Holy Spirit Jesus said in 14:17, will abide in us.
The relationships of believers where very important to Jesus. This is clear from his last urgent teaching before he went to the cross. In John chapter 13 he says: “I give you a new commandment that you love one another,” in chapter 14 He says "Those who love me are those who keep my commandments," and in chapter 15 he says: “My commandment is this, Love one another.” Jesus closed his farewell talk of with a prayer for the believers. In chapter 17 he prays that we will be one, as He is in the Father, and the Father is in him. So that the world may believe in Him.
Loving one another means seeing each other. The death of Christ for a person, attribute the highest worth to that person. Loving each other becomes easier when we keep this in mind.
3. What is the result of living in Christ’s love?
We will experience true Joy (Jn 15:11). Jesus said that his joy will be in us, and it will complete joy. In the Bible joy does not depend on external circumstances, but it is always the joy of salvation. It is the joy that comes from being reconciled to the Father that loves us, it values things that will matter in eternity. It flows from being connected to and included in the loving family of Christ.
We will have the peace of Christ (John 14:27). This peace Jesus said, it not like the peace the world gives, ever shifting according to the winds of change. The peace of Christ, his wholeness, depends on the faithful loyal love of God.
The Father will be glorified in us (John 15:8). This means that we will bring honour to the name of the Father. The world will look at our relationships and they will praise the God that we serve.
People will believe in Jesus Christ (Jn 17:21), and be included into the family of God. This is the fruit that last to eternity.
The key to remaining in God’s love is to love the people He loves, all of them. How are you living in Christ love with intentionality?