Love First - First Love

Continuing the theme of learning to love, let's look at something Jesus said:

“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.” John 15:9-12

At the Last Supper, Jesus turned the tables on the prevailing cultural norms. His formula is “I wash your feet and you let me wash your feet.” The only reciprocal act he seeks is the that of love. If you want to be happy, don’t worry about the laws in Leviticus. Worry about the two laws of love. Love God. Love Your Neighbour. It doesn’t matter if someone is different from you. There are no conditions. We are asked to love unconditionally if we want to remain in God’s favour. Nothing more. Nothing less. How else will we ever become a community that demonstrates the life of God?

But what does it mean to “Remain in me”?

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

After talking about remaining in him several times, Jesus extends his sentence to give it a fuller, and clearer meaning. He says: “Now remain in my love”

Jesus first explained to his disciples how much his heavenly Father loved him, testifying how he accepted and embraced this love reality, and then went on to explain that this is what enabled him to love them.

From a grand, eternal perspective, everything was created through him. He is undoubtedly powerful in his supreme and eternal reality; however, while Jesus walked the earth he had stripped himself of all that glory, humbling himself to come to earth in the image of man. In the body of man. In the limitations and weaknesses of man. He was limited to the same weaknesses and challenges we all have in these jars of clay, yet he loved us all so genuinely and passionately, and he loved all the way to the cross. But, living with the same limitations we also are burdened with in these “jars of clay”, the question is: How did he do it? How did he love us so much? The answer is that he did it by abiding in the love of his Father. Jesus demonstrated the divine power found in a life that rests in the truth of God’s love for them, and he encourages all of us that we can experience the same. Not by striving in our own strength, but through abiding in his love.

Resting in the truth of God’s unconditional love for you is the power of God to outwork his love through you into the world around you. This is what it means to remain in Jesus. He loves us just as the Father loved him while he walked the earth. We can walk with the same assurance we are perfectly loved and accepted as he did as he walked the earth. It is by remaining in the reality of Christ’s love for you, that allows God to freely let the fruit of the Spirit flourish in your life.

Am I Really Learning to Love?

Everyone, in their mind, embraces the idea of being a loving person, but it is the outworking of that belief in a way that bears fruit this is often the challenge. Jesus reveals both the problem and the solution to us. The problem is that we simply can’t love out of our own limited source of love. The solution is God has given us an unlimited source of love as a home to live in. In Christ. In Christ’s love. To truly love in a way that bears the fruit of heaven we need to remain in the abounding love of Christ, and allow that source of love to overflow through us into the lives around us.

Abide in Jesus’ love. Enjoy it.

Rejoice in it. Jesus actually told us it is through resting in his love and embracing this glorious reality that your joy will be complete. You are completely, unconditionally, and gloriously loved by your Lord and Saviour – what can make us more joyful than resting in that great reality? And so, abide in him; enjoy his love for you, and allow him the joy of loving others through you, to the glory of God.

The Sting in the Tail!

But here also is the rub! John 15 is a challenging passage about love, because the thing that really challenges us is when he says:

“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.” John 15:10

Jesus connects love with obedience. There’s a lot of people talking about love in the church these days but if it isn’t connected with obedience then it’s compromising the truth and it’s not the real love of God. John 15:10 shows us that the real love of God is connected with obedience to his commands and we in the church need to be walking in that love, but also in obedience. Otherwise there will be an element of deception that can come in. If we’re living in obedience and truth then that is true love – that’s agape love that will bring about the change in the lives of people who don’t know Jesus when they see true love in obedience and truth.