TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE: This is my command: Love each other. - John 15:17.
The Bible is often referred to as a love letter or love story; an incomparable history of hearts laid bare, broken, and believing. Filled with songs of love, promises of love, and commands to love, God’s Word is clear. Love is the purpose and the mission.
We embrace the Bible as a love story in no small part because the Bible shows us who we are-sins and all. It pulls us up from the dirt in Genesis through a cataclysm of warfare in Revelation. And yet, at the heart of it is the refrain that God so loves the world, anyway.
It’s interesting to note that although Jesus talks about loving God, your neighbor, enemies and more all throughout Scripture, he wraps his message of love in John 15 in that of abiding in him, even though the world may not love us.
He begins with the image of himself as the vine we draw sustenance from, yet ends with the reality that the world will hate those who love him. As he paints a picture of humanity stretching forth, bearing fruit only by the power of the vine, he says in John 15:12, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
To be sure the importance of his command is felt, he says it again in John 15:17, with greater clarity:
This is my command: Love each other.
Jesus is offering himself here, as he does for eternity, as our source when life requires us to choose love. He is assuring us that we draw our ability to love from Him-the only vine that makes our inept branches bear fruit. Without him, we wither as he describes in verse 6.
The one who loves us so much that he gives his very lifeblood to reconcile us to our Creator knows...that as his followers, we’re up against a world of hatred.
So, he commands us: love anyway.
How? Remain in him. Remember his words. And, as he says in John 15:10, “keep my commands.”
What does this look like for an imperfect human in a hurting world? It often takes surrendering your agenda. It definitely requires a willingness to claim utter dependence on a love supply that is far greater than any of us, and perfect in its plan.
Love involves seeking him in prayer when hatred prowls around, seeking to burn your branches. It means asking God for the wisdom to choose love, instead of hate. It means seeing even those who hate you as needing love, too.
Does Jesus say to set those haters straight? Does he say to bear angry, rotten fruit? Not at all. He says in John 15:27 that in presence of hate, we testify. By judging? By performing? Well, In this passage, there’s only way. By loving.
So, rather than get our branches in a twist, and risk breaking off from the One strong enough to grow us, let’s not respond to the reality of hate with further persecution.
Let’s abide, by asking what the vine would have us do to show His love instead.