John 15:12 – “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
I am struggling with John 15 this week. As I ruminate on the text in preparation for preaching on Sunday, I’m struggling. John seems to always provide me with a challenge, and in this case, the easy way out of the text is to focus on the 13th verse on greater love. Being in the military I can come up with several illustrations of combat bravery that demonstrate the love of friends and companions that led to a self-sacraficial act. But, on further examination, all of them are based upon a moment in time, when love of the other may or may not have been at play. I do not mean to dismiss these acts of bravery and heroism, but I’m not convinced that they were all based upon the pure love of the other that Jesus commands.
And, often I wonder if we place the act of heroism above the smaller acts of love. So, what do I tell the person in the pew, who like me, gets hung up on the 13th verse instead of looking at the entire chapter? In wrestling with this text, the surrounding verses highlight things for me. Love each other, Jesus commands us to do this. As a parent, I know that love involves many things, but boils down to looking beyond the actions to the core of the person. I love my son because of who he is deep down, not always because of what he does. And, in verse 14, Jesus calls us to serve with him as friends, rather than serve him as servants. This is a huge shift. We are called to be part of God’s plan for the Kingdom. It is not that one heroic act, it is the many acts of service we do for one another or for the world with Jesus that makes a difference.
I will continue to wrestle with the text over the next few days. I invite your reflections as well.