Sunday, May 10, 2015

abide in my love

St. Thomas' Church, Whitemarsh
Easter 6, Year B, 2015

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love” John 15:9

In last week’s reading Jesus used a metaphor of a vine and vineyard to describe the interconnected relationship between us and God. Today’s passage explores love. Now, this love is not romantic love or brotherly/sisterly love, but the kind of never-ending, never-waning, love that can only be found within the relationship of a faithful God to God’s people. 

If this relationship seems a bit one-sided, that’s because it almost always is one-sided. God, being God, showers us with love that abides; love that is steadfast, faithful, constant, and enduring. And in return, we are asked to share that love with others. 

Yet we so often fall short, me included. Why is this?

Obviously, one reason is that we are not God, but are human; imperfect creatures that continuously stray from the path and need redeeming. 

Love takes hard work and sacrifice. Love within a community is no different, whether that community be your family, roommates, co-workers, or fellow parishioners. Some of the best and worst relationships I have ever had have been with roommates and parishioners. Loving our neighbors and family members and the people in the pews beside us can be really hard work! 

Jesus promises joy for those who follow the commandment to love one another (John 15:11). Now, this joy doesn’t guarantee that we won’t experience difficulty. In fact, joy is often the end result of making it through challenging situations. In the next chapter, John compares this type of joy to a mother who, having labored, rejoices in the birth of her child (John 16:20-21). Another example might be the feeling after completing a marathon or triathlon, or defending a masters or doctoral thesis. 

Following Jesus’ command to love one another takes intentionality, dedication, time, and hard work. Some might attribute our difficulty with abiding in love and being in relationship to a lack of commitment. I would agree that our society as a whole does seem to have issues with this, especially in the last few years, but I believe that our problems with abiding in love start somewhere else. 

As we navigate through our lives, we often seek to discover meaning, but I think this quest is  actually rooted in a search for self-worth. We mistakenly attribute our worth to the ability to gain power, respect, authority, and wealth, or by our appearance, social circle, children, etc. 

I think most of us are really walking around completely insecure but desperately trying to hide it. I know I am, anyway. And when it comes to God, I feel so far from worthy. How could I possibly comprehend the One who created the extraordinary, intricate, immense world that we live in? How could I possibly pray sufficiently to the One who became one of us, came down to our level so that we could relate better to him? How could I possibly thank enough the One who “lay down [his] life” for us (John 15:13)? I am not worthy! But the thing is, in reality we are worthy. Not because of our merits, no. We are worthy because of God’s love for us, God’s creation, made in God’s image. We are loved unconditionally, exactly as we are. 

How would I behave differently if I didn’t just know but believed that I was loved unconditionally? How would you? Would we carry ourselves differently? Treat ourselves differently? Would it affect our interactions with one another? 

This week I invite you to revel in the knowledge that you are thoroughly and completely loved. And then respond to this love by loving one another. 

Image found here.

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