Love One Another
John 15:9-17 May 10, 2015
Pastor: Kun Sam Cho
A pastor attended convocation and heard the main speaker tell a joke before he delivered his presentation. He said, “I have to confess that I once loved a lady dearly before I met my wife. She was married then and still is. In fact, I spent many years of my life in the arms of another man’s wife. …. She was my mother.
The pastor who heard this funny joke decided to use it to grab the attention of his church members before his sermon. The following Sunday morning, he stood up behind the pulpit and before the sermon, he said loudly, “I have a confession to make.” “I was in love with a lady before I met my wife. She was married then and still is. In fact, I spent many years of my life in the arms of another man’s wife.” Then he forgot the next line. We can imagine what would happen to this pastor after that.
Yes, I too spent many years in the arms of another man’s wife. She lives in Torrance, CA. I still love her much. As a matter of fact, I call her up almost every morning around 9 am. Yes, she is my mother. How can I forget?
Today we honor our moms. Not everybody can be a mom, but everyone at some time in their life has had a mom, and at that time our mom was the most important person in our world. Some of us has mom still with us. Mom is home to us.
A couple was moving across the country. They decided to drive both cars. Their 8-year old son Nathan worried. “How will we keep from getting separated?” Dad reassured him, “We’ll drive slowly. One car can follow the other.” “But what if we DO get separated?” Nathan persisted. “Well, then I guess we’ll never see each other again,” Dad joked. Nathan quickly answered. “Then I’m riding with Mom.” Smart young fellow.
Mom is home to us. Most of us would have been lost without our moms. Some of us had moms who made great sacrifices in our behalf. We are profoundly grateful for that. So today we honor our moms and their sacrificial love.
Our lesson for the day from John’s Gospel is perfect for Mother’s Day because it is about love. Thank you, Andrew for reading it for us. Let me read it once again with a minor change.
Jesus called God as Abba, Daddy. He pictured God as a gentle and caring and forgiving heavenly Father whose love embraces the whole universe including humankind. But we know and believe that God does not have a gender. God is Spirit. God is neither male nor female.
In light of this special Sunday, Mother’s Day Sunday, let me substitute the word Mother for God rather than the word Father.
“As my Mother has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Mother’s commands and remain in her 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 . . .”
There are several thoughts we can draw from this lesson.
Note, first of all, that love is a command. Jesus isn’t giving us a suggestion that we love one another. This is a command. To be a follower of Jesus Christ is to love our families, love our friends, even love our enemies, period. “By this people will know that you are my disciples,” said the Lord, “if you love one another” (John 13:35). There aren’t many rules to the Christian faith, not really, but this rule is iron clad. We are to love
A young boy in elementary school was given a test in English grammar. He was being tested on the perfect tense of verbs. One question had a column of verbs in the present tense, and he had to put the perfect form of each of these verbs in the opposite column. He came to the verb “live,” and in the opposite column for the perfect tense of the word “live” he wrote the word “love.” Grammatically he was wrong, but from a Christian standpoint he was right on target. The perfect form of “to live” is to love.
Love is what life is about. In I Corinthians 13 St. Paul summed it up like this: “These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” We Christians are here in this world to love. That is all. That is it.
One step forward. Hear the command the Lord gives us once again: “Love one another as I have loved you.” A question arises. “Yes, we are here to love. How to love? The Lord clearly said, “Do as I have done.”
We know the greatest commandment he gave. One day an expert in the law tested him with a question. The question was “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments,” Jesus declared (Matthew 22:34-40).
Love your neighbor as you love yourself. This is the Golden Rule.
But this morning Jesus goes beyond this. He commands us to love others as he has loved us. We are not simply to love our neighbor as we love our self; we are to love our neighbor as Jesus loves us. That’s a different and much more difficult standard.
Sam had a tough life. He had virtually no father growing up and his mother was a difficult person. She married five times, none of the relationships lasting long. She had little time for her children and gave them little encouragement. This adult man still carries many wounds from her inattention. However, late in life his mother developed a degenerative muscular disease and gradually lost almost every physical capacity. You can imagine how difficult she was to care for. None of her other children would have anything to do with her. Neither would any of the men she had married. No one except this son, Sam.
Sam decided to love. He took her into his home and cared for her, feeding her by hand, combing her hair, and cleaning up after her messes . . . about all she could do was cry and moan incessantly. When she died, sixteen people came to the funeral. None of her other kids came. The son who cared for her had a little toy tape recorder his mother had gotten him one Christmas and he played a tape of he and his mom singing a Christmas carol. He talked about how she loved Christmas.
Sam didn’t love her perfectly, not by a long shot. But he loved her when loving was hardest. He loved her when no one else would love her, and he remembered her with kind words. That must have been difficult loving her when she showed him so little love. But that’s what Christian love is. That’s the kind of love Christ gave us when we were undeserving. Isn’t it? Amazing grace. We are accepted when we are not acceptable.
No one denies the fact that our own human love is conditional and selective. “I love you for what you can do for me.” “You meet my needs and so I have a warm feeling for you.” “I love you because you are simply lovable or because you act lovable toward me.” “I love you because you think like me and act like me.” “I love you because you look like me and speak the same language like mine.”
We love those closest to us. Jesus did not say love only those whom you are comfortable with. Jesus did not say that we should only love those who go to church every Sunday. Jesus did not say that we should only love Christians. Jesus said we should love not only our neighbors, but also love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
Is there someone in your neighborhood, someone in your family, someone who is an outsider, perhaps from another religious tradition or perhaps they have no religious tradition, perhaps grumpy or abusive or just downright nasty? It doesn’t matter. Jesus’ love is for all people. When he stretched out his arms of love on the hardwood of the cross, he stretched them out for everyone. We are invited to love one another as he has loved us. We are invited to stretch out our lives for every one as well.
Here is the real test of Christian love: can we love all God’s children as Jesus loves them? Can we enlarge that circle of love? Can we love as Jesus loves? Can we? That’s hard. Maybe impossible. Right?
Back to the ranch. Back to the lesson.
Actually in the lesson this morning, Jesus gives us two commands.
The first is to remain in his love. We read in verses 9 and 10: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” Where do we find the power to love as Jesus loved? We find it by remaining in his love.
In verse 12 Jesus gives us that second command. It is that we are to “love each other as he has loved us.” This command is linked to the first which is to remain in God’s love. When we remain in God’s love, that love will transforms us and give us the power to love others.
Let me say it again: We love because Christ first loved us. And unless we have Christ’s love in our hearts, we simply cannot love others who are outside of our circle of intimate relationships. We simply do not have the power to love as Christ loved us unless we have Christ’s spirit within us. Then and only then can we fulfill his command to love others as he has loved us.
So we sing once again this morning, “Into my heart, into my heart, come into my heart O Lord Jesus. Come in today. Come in to stay. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus” “Out of my heart, out of my heart, shine out of my heart, Lord Jesus. Shine out today. Shine out alway. Shine out of my heart, Lord Jesus”
“Love one another as I have loved you.” Amen. Amen. Amen.