Love One Another
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
This is a challenging passage. If we want to say we are friends with Jesus, we need to be obeying his commands. And love is his highest command. That means even when we are doing the right thing, we need to pay attention to whether we are doing it the right way. Here’s the thing about that—we are always great at seeing how OTHER people could do better in our eyes. But get off your high horse and take a look at your own life. That’s the only way to handle the words of Jesus.
“Keep my commands”, Jesus says. Yet following Jesus is not just a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s a way of being in the world. There are things Jesus commands and warns us NOT to do. There are things that Jesus commands us TO do. But there is ONE command that stands out. In one sense it is the highest command of all. All the other commands answer to it. If any are in conflict, this command is the one to be obeyed. Yet in another sense it is under all the other commands. Because it is the ground or source of them. It’s the love of Jesus flowing into our lives that makes our obedience possible. I’ll say more about this but just like we covered last Sunday—we cannot remain where we have never been. So we start with a saving encounter with Jesus’ love. Have you been to Jesus? No? Well what are you waiting for? Today is your day.
Jesus is the Son of God who became man. Jesus is God-Man who walked this earth and showed us what love and truth look like in a human life. Jesus is the Great Teacher who explained to us how much God loves us. Jesus is also the Great Teacher who explained how our sin—selfish acts of disobedience--must be left behind. Then Jesus proved his love for us by becoming our savior. Though he was without sin and was falsely accused, he went to the cross and died a horrible shame-filled death. He died for us. He died to set us free from our debt of sin and the break the power of our selfish ways. Jesus arose again from the dead in the greatest miracle ever. His resurrection body was the firstfruits of a whole new creation that God is making. He then ASCENDED into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father, interceding for his church! Working to prepare a place for us! Behold I am making ALL THINGS NEW! That’s my Jesus! He’s coming again. He will judge the world, which includes all of us. Now that we know who Jesus is—what we do between now and then or between now and when we die matters.
First of all: BE in Jesus’s love. We all have a conscience. We know that are things we have done wrong in life. Have you confessed those sins to God? He will forgive you and clean you up on the inside. Have you made a reasonable effort to make things right? Jesus will restore you. Have you been baptized? Have you made a public confession of your faith in Him? This is how you set things right and begin the journey with Jesus. Make sure.
Then Jesus is telling us to abide in his love...
Abide in my love
Abide in my love
That’s the starting point. Abiding in Jesus’ love. Like we talked about last week it means remaining in Jesus love or dwelling/living in his love. Some people who are trying to follow Jesus are abiding in his rules rather than his love. Some people who are trying to follow Jesus are abiding in his data—the right information about Jesus. Some people who are trying to follow Jesus are abiding in his Tribe and focusing almost completely on who’s in and who’s out.
Don’t hear me wrong—rules have value, right beliefs are important, and it’s great to belong to the Body of Christ. But the foundation of it all is abiding in the love of Jesus. That needs to shape how everything else comes together. And think about the scope of Jesus’ love.
Love that entered our world when we were hostile or uninterested… Love that faced deep rejection and never lost focus.
We are invited to receive that love and then to begin and continue living in the love of Jesus. Like the air that you breathe. Like the glasses you wear that help you see the world more clearly. Like a new garment. Or to get back to the garden metaphor, like the sap that flows through the vine and changes us from within. You don’t have to keep asking for that love and then walking away. That’s no way to live, like a spiritual refugee trying to find your way home again and again. Abide. Remain in my love.
Abide ye in my love—Keep your place in my affection. See that ye do not forfeit that invaluable blessing. How needless a caution, if it were impossible for them not to abide therein? John Wesley, Wesley’s Notes on the Bible, Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 1997), paragraph 16910.
John Wesley, Wesley’s Notes on the Bible, Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 1997), paragraph 16910.
The Radical Optimism of Grace
The Radical Optimism of Grace
This is part of what we Wesleyans call the Radical Optimism of Grace. It is
If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love?—On these terms, and no other, ye shall remain the objects of my special affection. John Wesley, Wesley’s Notes on the Bible, Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 1997), paragraph 16911.
f ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love?—On these terms, and no other, ye shall remain the objects of my special affection.
John Wesley’s Notes on the Whole Bible (Wesley’s Notes)
Derived from an electronic text from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Remaining in the Father’s love was not for Jesus a passive thing; it involved obedience to his commands. The same is true for Jesus’ disciples. They remain in Jesus’ love by keeping his commands. Colin G. Kruse, John: An Introduction and Commentary, TNTC 4; IVP/Accordance electronic ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 316.
John Wesley, Wesley’s Notes on the Bible, Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 1997), paragraph 16911.
Formatted and hypertexted by OakTree Software, Inc.
Colin G. Kruse, John: An Introduction and Commentary, TNTC 4; IVP/Accordance electronic ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 316.
Love One Another
Love One Another
What does it mean to love one another? There is a place in our hearts where I think we know the answer to that.
It doesn’t mean: pander to one another… There’s no end to that.
It doesn’t mean: one and done one another… You get one strike and then I’m done! Then you’re not acting like a Christian.
It doesn’t mean: let everyone take advantage of you all the time. But it might mean getting taken advantage of sometimes.
It doesn’t mean: never speak the truth to others. No we should say what we mean. But if what we mean is always MEAN, then we might need to mean a little differently!
It means we don’t gossip about each other. If you have a problem with someone, have the guts to talk to them. If you don’t have the guts to talk to them, then you only have a problem with yourself and you should let it go. If you go and talk to several other people about what someone else did wrong or failed to do, but you don’t talk to that person—God help you. You’re guilty of the sin of gossip. You are now out of sorts with that person but more importantly now you are out of sorts with God himself.
Loving one another sacrificially, means acting in ways that better the lives of others.
Loving one another means putting the needs of others before yourself.
Loving one another means acting to build up the relationship, rather than tearing it down.
Obeying Jesus is hugely important. But you can spoil the true value of your obedience if you don’t do it in love. Your offering rings hollow if you compare it to someone else, resenting how much they do or don’t give. Your church attendance falls short if you judge someone else for not attending. Your prayer life misses the mark if it becomes a source of pride and comparison in your life. If you say you love God, but hate your brother, you need to revisit what or who you really love. Don’t commit acts of immorality. Also don’t cause others to stumble.
Jesus has many commands— to partake of communion is one of them…so that’s what we will do today. It’s one way to remain in His love. But we don’t just come alone. We come together to the table of grace. The Scriptures say we should examine ourselves to make sure we are in right relationship to God and others. If a relationship is out of sorts, it’s a good thing to approach that person and be restored before coming to the Table. Jesus said, we must forgive if we want to be forgiven. So we need to commit to that process. If we are actively withholding forgiveness from someone, then we should not come to the Table until we are able to at least begin the process of forgiveness.
But this Table is open to anyone who is fully open to the work of Jesus in their life, who is fully committed to following Jesus and is fully committed to loving one another.
Let’s come to the table...
The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (stand)
Minister: The Lord be with you. People: And also with you. Minister: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord. Minister: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give God thanks and praise.
Minister: It is right and good and a joyful thing, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. You through your Word spoke the whole universe into being. Therefore, we praise you, joining Angels and Archangels in heaven who forever sing this hymn: All: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. (Congregation may be seated)
NOT ON SLIDES...Prayer of Consecration Minister: We acclaim you, holy Lord, glorious in power. Your mighty works reveal your wisdom and love. You formed us in your own image, giving the whole world into our care, so that we might serve all your creation. When our disobedience took us far from you, you did not abandon us to the power of death. In your mercy you came to our help, so that in seeking you we might find you. Through the prophets you taught us to hope for salvation. You sent your only Son to be our Savior. And, that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who died and was raised for us, you sent the Holy Spirit, Christ’s first gift for those who believe, to complete his work in the world and to bring to fulfillment the sanctification of us all.
Pick up the bread: When the hour had come for him to be glorified by you, Heavenly Father, our Lord Jesus took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: do this in remembrance of me.”
Lifting the cup: After supper, he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” SLIDES BEGIN AGAIN...Minister: Therefore, according to his command O Father, People: We remember his death, we proclaim his resurrection, we rejoice in his gift of the Holy Spirit. NOT ON SLIDES...Minister Lord, we pray that in your goodness and mercy, your Holy Spirit may descend upon us and up on these gifts, sanctifying them and showing them to be holy gifts for your holy people, the bread of life and the cup of salvation, the body and blood of your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant that all who share the bread and cup may become one body and one spirit, a living sacrifice in Christ, to the praise of your name. All this we ask through your Son, Jesus Christ By him and with him and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and forever. And together we say, Amen! SLIDES BEGIN AGAIN...
Minister: And now as our Savior Christ has taught us, we pray:
SLIDES BEGIN AGAIN...Minister: Therefore, according to his command O Father, People: We remember his death, we proclaim his resurrection, we rejoice in his gift of the Holy Spirit. NOT ON SLIDES...Minister Lord, we pray that in your goodness and mercy, your Holy Spirit may descend upon us and up on these gifts, sanctifying them and showing them to be holy gifts for your holy people, the bread of life and the cup of salvation, the body and blood of your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant that all who share the bread and cup may become one body and one spirit, a living sacrifice in Christ, to the praise of your name. All this we ask through your Son, Jesus Christ By him and with him and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and forever. And together we say, Amen! SLIDES BEGIN AGAIN...Minister: And now as our Savior Christ has taught us, we pray:
All: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Minister: Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us.
People: Therefore let us keep the feast.
Minister: The gifts of God for the people of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith with thanksgiving.
All who confess Jesus Christ as Lord are welcome to come to his Table.
METHOD OF INTINCTION: TODAY WE INVITE YOU TO COME FORWARD WITH CUPPED HANDS TO RECEIVE THE BREAD, THEN YOU ARE INVITED TO DIP THE BREAD IN THE CUP AND PLACE IT IN YOUR MOUTH-then you may kneel and pray or return to your seat....
Minister: Let us pray: All: Almighty and ever living God, we thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food of the body and blood of your son, our Savior Jesus Christ; and for assuring us that we are living members of his body. And now, Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord. To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen. Benediction: Now may we love one another. May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.