These things I command you, so that you will love each other. John 15:17
In the book of John, chapter 15, verses 1 thru 16, Jesus spends a great deal of time explaining His desire for us to stay connected to Him. He uses a brilliant and easy to understand analogy through branches and a vine. Branches only grow and bear fruit when they are connected to a thriving vine. We are branches, God is the vine and love is the fruit. If we aren’t well connected to God, we cannot love like God.
So what does it mean to love like God? Once again in this passage we see God use a term for love which in the original text means an unconditional, self-sacrificing love for another that seeks to raise the other person up. This isn’t a casual “I love ya” type of love, this is an “I’m with you in the muck” type of love. It’s hard and pain-filled, beautiful and life-giving. It’s the love of Christ who gave up His life.
Jesus’ heart is that we show the love of heaven while we are here in Earth and we do that by being empowered through God. We won’t do this perfectly so don’t make that a goal. Love is sloppy and messy and, it’s real so that’s all ok. Abide in God, and He will guide you and help you.
Abide to love.
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34 ESV
Forgiveness. Forgiveness is tough for us because many times it means that we have to bestow grace without receiving any justice for pain that has been inflicted on us. Forgiveness says that we are most concerned with connection, not vindication and that’s hard.
In some of His last words before His death, Jesus gives us a great example of forgiveness and shows us yet again how to live connected. He’s just been beaten to a bloody pulp, forced to carry a heavy wooden beam, nailed to a cross and mocked the entire time. All of that pain was poured out on Him because of His identity. He hadn’t hurt anybody, on the contrary He healed people. He hadn’t lied or stolen, He had told the Truth and provided. Jesus was being His most authentic self and that terrified people so they killed Him. If anyone deserves to have righteous indignation and a strong need for vindication it’s Jesus.
But Jesus doesn’t get angry. He doesn’t scream from the cross curses at the Roman executors. He doesn’t pleasd His case on why they should take Him down. Instead, He speaks words of love, asking His Father to forgive them all. I can’t image having that much love in the midst of that much pain and the truth is, that’s our example.
The world can be a harsh place. The darkness can be so thick it’s hard to shine your light. Some situations can feel like there is simply no way you can forgive people and yet, if you follow Jesus your example is just that, forgiveness. No matter how wrong they are, no matter how much pain you’re in, seek forgiveness. Seek to forgive them and seek to do them no harm. It’s hard, sometimes it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do, and with God it is possible.
Here are a few other verses giving us guidance from Jesus on forgiveness:
* Luke 6:37, Luke 17:3-4
* Matthew 6:14-15, 18:21-22
* Mark 11:25
Here’s the good news for today: God’s faithfulness to you is not impacted by your faithfulness to Him. Did you catch that? Let me say it another way: God will never stop being faithful to you no matter what you do.
Take a deep breath in and release the peace that comes with knowing that God is always for you. At no time in your life has God or will God be petty, it’s not His nature. He cannot deny who He is and who He is is a God who loves His people (you and me) so much that He will remain faithful regardless of how badly we may treat Him. Wow. That’s serious love.
Whatever you’re facing today, whatever feelings of confusion or anger at what’s unfolding in your life, know without a doubt that God is remaining faithful to you. He’s over the moon for you and He is present with you.
Sometimes life gets hard and it can almost feel like God is fighting against us. We don’t see things happening the way we want and we get frustrated. Frustration quickly turns to losing hope and before we know it, we lose sight of what we know about God: He is for us.
Today, in the midst of challenge or ease, let’s remember that God is in our side. Let’s take heart and find peace in Psalm 20:1-5.
May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May He send you help and give you support! May He regard you with favor! May He grant you your heart’s desire! May He fulfill your plans! May He answer all your plans!
May the Lord…