Through the ages, parents have had these talks with their kids. “You’re on your own now. Remember what I’ve taught you. Don’t forget where you’ve come from.”
Sometimes we need that parent-child talk from Jesus.
I need to turn back to his words when the darkness closes in, and I’m forgetting his purposes for my life and this world in general. Thankfully, he understands that and left us with some wonderful words of comfort and encouragement in the last several chapters of John’s gospel. We’re still moving through chapter thirteen today, where we find these words:
My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.*
He is talking to grown men, but Jesus doesn’t hesitate to call them his children. After all, he’s taken them in, nurtured them, taught them and basically raised them in the faith for the past three years. They were family — children in the family of God. They were as dear to his heart as children.
We too are dear to the heart of Christ. We are his children.
Even so, there comes the moment when Jesus, like the parent of a high school graduate, must push us to take ownership of our faith and walk into the world on our own two feet. We know, post resurrection, that he doesn’t leave us on our own, but I doubt the apostles grasped that yet. Still, we have to live out his command on our own.
AS I have loved you, SO YOU must love one another.
It shouldn’t be that complicated. It was easy to spot Jesus’ love for his people. He ate with them, laughed with them, cried with them, discipled them — and died for them.
Now it’s our turn.
Why, when the darkness comes, does it seem so hard to let the glory of God reveal itself through our love for the Body of Christ? Maybe, we’re letting ourselves get distracted by the world’s attempt to cloud our thinking. We prefer isolation to fellowship. We eat alone rather than in the company of others. We hide our tears for fear of ridicule.
No wonder Jesus repeats the word love four times.
He wants us to get the message. Remember, he repeated glory five times just before this.
When we love as he loved us, God is glorified through the Son’s glory shining through us. Why?
Because we cannot love as Christ loved without recognizing the glory of Christ through his atonement provided by the cross on our behalf.
Yet, when we do and when we show that love to our fellow brother and sister in Christ, the world takes notice and recognizes us as his disciples.
Have you stepped out in confident faith, shining with the glory of Christ as you love your fellow believer? If you have, the darkness has no power in your life and is dispelled in the wake of your love, modeled on that of your Master.
But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.*
Walk on, oh child of God, to his glory.
Grace and Peace
John 13:33-35 (NIV)
1 John 2:5-6.