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Loving like Jesus

Based on Robin’ sermon in church at the 6:30pm service on Sunday 21st May.

Reading

John 14:15-21

Love is a word we hear and use a lot and yet it has a variety of meanings:

  • I love the pudding you made last Sunday
  • I love that new dress
  • I loved your sermon
  • I love you very much

St Augustine (who is supposed to have brought Christianity to Kent in A.D.597) is reputed to have said “Love, and do what you will...” but I think he did not mean we could do what we like or ‘anything goes’ as long as it is loving.

In our reading Jesus stresses that love and obedience go together.

We need to remember that when the Bible mentions the word ‘love’, it is not the fluffy, gooey romantic word for love that we may read about in novels or see in adverts on TV or the media. John here is using the word agape for love, meaning ‘self-giving, sacrificial love’. It is never out to please itself but only to please God and others. So if you like the word Love, used here it is a verb, a ‘doing’ word – it is a love that is seen in action, in caring for one another – demonstrating Christ’s love to others in concern and helping one another – being there for one another. Loving one another by who we are.

In John 13:34 Jesus is recorded as saying

A new commandment I give you. Love one another as I have loved you – so you must love one another.
We believe that is true and I guess we believe in it but, being honest, how hard (as Christians) we sometimes find this in reality.
We believe it, but sadly actually doing it often escapes us and we find it easier to judge and criticise each other rather than love – and if you are not sure of this, just think how easy it seems to be for us to gossip about one another, and go off one another.

What Would Jesus Do wrist bandOur reading has Jesus making it clear that if we really love Him we will keep His commandments. In other words we will at least try to reflect his lifestyle in our lives; by doing the things he would want us to, and to try to have the character and responses He would have. (Do you remember those wristbands some Christians used to wear WWJD, – What would Jesus do?)

But living out our faith in Jesus in practical ways can all sound a bit like my old school reports “Robin needs to try harder”
It makes it sound as if living out our Christian lives is like trying to push a heavy boulder uphill!

The exciting thing is that Jesus goes on to say that God, our Heavenly Father, will send the Holy Spirit to be with us forever, so that we will be given all the help and strength we need to live for Jesus.

In our Bible (study) notes this week, Helen and I read that someone has described the Holy Spirit as “God’s power in action”. The Holy Spirit, if you like, is the spirit of Jesus living in us making all this possible. He reminds us of the things we need to do and will give us the strength and desire to become more like Jesus.

If that sounds all too easy or impossible, think of how the Holy Spirit changed the early disciples at the feast of Pentecost (which is celebrated in 2 weeks time) from a bunch of frightened people, into those who went into alien cultures to speak of Jesus, and in His name, prayed for and healed people. The Bible says they turned the world upside down; and they also changed the course of history.

If the Holy Spirit did that for them, I believe He can do the same for us, if we ask him to.

Years ago I used to feel the Holy Spirit was a bit scary and – if I’m honest - not Anglican! People who believed in Him were a bit ‘over the top’! I was so very, very wrong.
The Holy Spirit is, of course, love; so having his strength and presence in us is not scary, but secure comfortable, safe and loving.

Our Church Motto or strapline, painted over our entrance, says we are here to love God and people. As we are able to really love each other more, and demonstrate that by loving action, hopefully others will notice and be drawn to the source of that love; Jesus Christ.

The last verse of our reading says that:

They who have my commandments, and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me, will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.
If some thing is revealed it is eventually clear, but perhaps comes slowly, bit by bit.

I love watching detective stories – especially Poirot, Morse and Lewis on ITV3 - and usually the culprit is revealed only at the very end.

It may be that it will take time for the Lord Jesus to reveal Himself to us as we think, pray and try to be open to what He may be teaching us through His Holy Spirit.

So to sum up

  • if we say we love Jesus, He wants our lives to reflect that
  • it is possible, with the help of His Holy Spirit living in us
  • if we fail (and. let’s be honest, we will) let’s remember that God will still go on forgiving us and loving us anyway!