PFOA : John 15 : 12-17
The verses 12-17 are bracketed by Jesus with the commandment, “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” (v. 12 NAS), and “This I command you, that you love one another.” (v. 17 NAS).
All Jesus’ words are authoritative and are meant to be obeyed; but in this case, he has elevated them to commandments. On top of that he repeats the words, “love one another” within a short space of a few sentences. Escalation and Repetition - we must must heed them indeed.
While the command is indisputable, we know that reality is quite different. However, rather than throwing up our hands in despair over the multiplication of denominations, news of church splits and competition over “turf” between churches and organisations, let’s focus on our own response to Jesus’ commands.
Notice first he is speaking to his disciples when he says “you love one another”. His disciples are to love other disciples. He has also explained what that “love” means – just as he has loved us. In the comics strip Peanuts, Lucy says “I love the whole world, it’s people I don’t like”. How does Jesus love us? The Gospel acts it out, but often, we, like Israel in Mal. 1:2, don’t see it. The contemporary idea of romantic or emotional “love” falls short; and it is not necessary “like”. God answered the Israelites in Mal. 1:3 by asking them to think about Jacob, Esau and their descendents. God demonstrated his “love” for Jacob with his provision, protection, and presence; guiding and being concerned for and in communion with them. Inspite of their sin and rebellion, He never abandoned them.
Perhaps TLC “Tender Loving Care” communicates this idea better. What does a nurse do? She is concerned for the well-being and restoration of her patient. She gently ministers to the patient’s needs and weaknesses. She provides food and medication so that he recovers his strength and the illness and diseases are removed. She disciplines him, ensuring that he takes his medicine, even when it is bitter, and gets enough rest. Sometimes, inspite of the patient’s complaints, she requires him to undergo physiotherapy and painful exercises. She cares for her patient, for his ultimate good.
Where do we start? For many of us, world-wide church unity; dialogue between denominations; or collaboration of churches within denominations are beyond our sphere of influence. So we must start in our churches, our small groups, our personal interactions with other believers at work or play. We are to love our brothers and sisters in the faith, caring for them, for their ultimate good.
• The Apostle Paul showed his love for people by giving thanks and praying for them whenever he remembers them. Not only when they had a need, or faced persecution , or were in prison. So he prayed for their growth in the faith, their partnership in the gospel, to be pure and blameless before Christ. Let us not wait till someone is sick, or facing challenges, or embarking on a new task before we pray for them.
• If we do not know how to pray for our friends, small group or church members, then show our care and concern, find out from them how we may pray for them
• Praying for one another is the first step to loving one another.