Friday, June 15, 2012

John 15:9-13

Having just explained the need for the disciples to remain in Him and in His Word, Jesus now gives them another command :

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John15:9-12)

We know that the Apostle John was greatly influenced by this teaching. His writings are full of the importance of loving one another. His first letter is filled with exhortations to love as God first loved us. Christ impressed on His disciples that to love is an action of obedience, not a feeling. Feelings come and go; they can be influenced by what we’ve eaten, how much sleep we’ve gotten, or by an offhanded remark. We cannot trust our emotions to be the barometer of what we need to do.

This is so very clear in a marriage. That rush of emotion and elation that you feel in the first days of your relationship and marriage (notice I said “days”), is quickly gone when you have your first fight. And in a marriage, over the years, there is so much to fight about: children (whether to have them, how to discipline them, who gets to do the homework with them...); finances; sex; sharing chores; whose family to visit on Christmas day; etc.

In a culture that is obsessed with external looks and material possessions, it is so easy to be lead by our feelings about our spouse. The looks go downhill pretty quickly and resentments build during times of financial stress. So, if we judge the security and rightness of our marriage by how we’re feeling, we’ll be tempted to jump ship over and over. That’s why Jesus makes it clear here that loving is a decision to obey His command, not an emotion. It’s a commitment to trust and obey Him.

And the reality is that when we obey, the feelings often follow. I love what Jon Courson says about how this decision to love will turn around our emotions in a marriage: “Guys, maybe you’ve lost your feelings for your wife. Treat her like a treasure, and your emotions will follow because Jesus taught that where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.” (Courson, P. 566)

Now your issue may not be with your spouse, but with the person sitting next to you at church or the coworker in the next cubby or classroom. Imagine how that relationship might change if we treated that person like a treasure! Jesus promised in these verses we’re looking at this morning that if we obey His command to love, God’s love will remain in us; it will overflow - and, the bonus: our joy will be complete! (vs.11) If we want an abundant, fruitful life, we must love one another as Jesus loved us. (vs.12)

 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (vs. 13)

This is the key to this commandment! Die! Jon Courson, in discussing this verse, refers to John Knox and how he lead revival in Scotland:

“An entire nation was revived when John Knox prayed, ‘Lord, give me Scotland, or I die.’ But what many people do not know is what Knox wrote concerning the answer to that prayer. The Lord responded in his heart, saying, ‘First die, then I’ll give you Scotland.’ ” (Courson, P.566)

If we want to have a good marriage or relationships with others, we MUST DIE to our own needs and desires first! Jesus is commanding us to lay down “self” if we want to experience complete joy! If your relationship with your spouse is going south, one of you needs to take that first step of obedience. Guess who that will need to be?

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