Psalm 96:1-2, 2-3, 10
Remain in my loveÖ
The passage from John for today is one of many in the Gospel of John that emphasize abiding or remaining in Godís love. What does it mean to abide in Jesusí love? The passage for today says that if we keep Jesusí commandments, then we remain in His love. What were Jesusí commandments? Love. Love the Lord with all of your being and love your neighbor.
The love Jesus taught was not simply an absence of hate or lawful respect for others. We are to love as Jesus loved, to be made perfect, as He is perfect. Jesus teaches that love speaks the truth, sacrifices self, teaches and corrects, reconciles, and heals. Can we sum this up by saying that love focuses first and foremost on building, sustaining, and restoring relationships? Can we apply this to intimate relationships, community relationships, civic relationships, and even global relationships? The passage from Acts makes clear that the gifts of the Holy Spirit that can empower us to love in this way are available to all. Godís love reaches beyond the boundaries that culture establishes. God calls the new church to reach out to the Gentiles and not to require that they become Jews before they would be deserving of love and fellowship.
My pastor often explains that the word for abide means tabernacle or tent. I like that image. We choose to pitch our tent in Jesusí love. Wherever we go, we take care to set up camp first, to get our priorities in line with Godís, and Godís first priority is love. As Paul reminds us in I Corinthians, all other ministries and missions are meaningless unless we love. Dwelling in Jesusí love helps us to keep the perspective necessary to seek His kingdom, and not our own. When caravans come rolling by the tent urging us to obtain joy in other ways or to build other kingdoms, we must dwell secure in Godís love. No doubt we all face different sirens that call us to abandon the tent of Jesusí love Ė to dwell instead in self-righteousness, in ambition, in resentment, or in self-fulfillment. Sometimes these calls sound very reasonable, even holy. However, if the call takes us out of the tent of Godís love, if it ruins rather than builds relationships, then surely it is not the call of God. Surely anything that God calls us to do can be done while remaining in the tabernacle of His love.
That Jesus loves us in this way Ė that God made us to love one another in this way Ė that Jesus sent His Spirit to help all remain in this love and have complete joy Ė what a wondrous deed to proclaim to all the nations! What a salvation to announce day after day!
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