These have been difficult times. Most of us are feeling isolated and cut off from our various communities of friendship. Ties that were once strong have been put to the test. That is why I found the liturgical reading this week from John 15:9-17 so strengthening.
After talking about the abiding relationship of vine and branches which results in the bearing of much fruit, Jesus reveals something astounding regarding those who abide. “It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit” (John 15:16a). It is truly amazing to me to realize that we have been chosen by the great God who created the universe and all that is in it! He cares so deeply for us that, as Jesus says, in Luke 12:7, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered”.
Further to that Jesus tells His obedient disciples “I have called you friends, for everything that I heard from my Father, I have made known to you” (v. 15b). Yes, Jesus calls us, you and me, to be his friends. We can come to Him at any time. We are full partners with Him in the redemption of the world because He has made His business known to us. We are full fledged partners with Him in the cause of reconciling the world to God.
What does He ask of us, His friends? Jesus leaves us no doubt in this passage:
This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you. (vs 12)
It is the kind of pure love that knows no limits, is willing to make any sacrifice and is eternal. But how is it possible that we could be capable of what Jesus has asked of us – loving others as He has loved us? Only by abiding in Him. Listen as He speaks to you through the Bible. Talk to Him in prayer while taking your daily walks. Memorize His words as you sit eating your meals. Praise Him for His constant faithfulness. Remember, Jesus said, “all you ask the Father in my name he will give you.” (vs 16b). That includes loving others, especially those who are difficult to love. Ask Jesus to teach you how.
Isolation and social distancing have made all of us long for more friendship and connection. Maybe as we continue to wait out the restrictions we will enter more deeply into a relationship with a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Continue your mediation on these words with the following two musical selections.