By Greg Lunsford --
During my preparation for the sermon this week I landed on John 13:35 and I rested there for a while:
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
As Jesus followers, love is to be our calling card. Specifically, how we love God and how we love one another.
The world around us notices how we speak about each other, how we treat one another, the way we serve people in our community, and how we support each other. It is the calling card by which people will see that Jesus is real to us.
Imagine loving each other as Jesus loved his disciples. The disciples were a rag tag group of men that got confused by Jesus, that often questioned his tactics, that bailed on him in his time of need, and even denied knowing him. Jesus still loved that group of men, those friends.
My question then becomes if Jesus loved a group like that so much, why is it hard for us to love at times? If Jesus can love me, there is no excuse that I can’t love as he loved.
Paul gives us some good directives on what is not love and what is love in Galatians 5:19-24:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
The first part lists the works of the flesh. If you are like me, then you may have even struggled with some of these this very week. We are still being made holy, and God is still sanctifying us, which means we will fail, every single one of us. It also means we will need tons of grace from God and one another. Church, I am not perfect. I will need grace. You are not perfect, and you too will need grace.
What if we had that kind of love for one another? That Jesus kind of love. Jesus loved that rag tag group of disciples that fell flat on their face time after time, yet Jesus gave grace and love over and over. Let’s have that same love for each other. Love needs to be our first fruits.
Look at what Paul says the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. That is Jesus love. That is the love we are all called to give to one another.
My encouragement to you, Greater Portland, is to continue to love each other as Jesus has loved us. That love will reveal Jesus to the world. That love will bond us together where nothing can break us apart. That love will sanctify us and make us more like Jesus.