Thursday, August 6, 2009
Abundant lush red grapes hanging from thick green vine appeal to me. So, when Jesus compared himself to a vine, promising fruit to those who cling to him, the imagery grabs me.
I can taste the sweetness of the juice and savor the fruit.
But when Jesus said to remain in his love, that is more abstract. How do I remain in his love?
Jesus answered the question in a talk with his disciples. To remain in his love comes on the path of obedience. ("If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love..." John 15:10)
Well, OK. But what is his command? Jesus must have been fielding questions from his disciples, because he answered that question shortly: "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you" (John 15:12)
So we are to love others as he loved us. That seems easy enough when the object of our love is a newborn or a dear family member. We get warm fuzzies back and feel good about it all.
Jesus expanded the circle, however. He wasn't speaking of the love that seeks return but of a tougher sort. "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)
Now we're getting to it. How do I remain in his love? By laying down my life for others. That's what he commands.
When Susan washed clothes behind the scenes for weeks when a family was struck with a terrible illness, she laid down her life for others. When Sam hauled out trash and pulled weeds for a neighbor who could not- and was bitter about it- he laid down his life for another. When Nate spent his vacation feeding orphans in Haiti, he laid down his life.
Laying down our life isn't always rewarding except in one sense. Jesus promises his presence to those who remain in his love. And that is sweet fruit.