Reflection for Friday 11th June 2021

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READING John 15.12-17
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

These few verses from John’s gospel are part of Jesus’ farewell speech, which he spoke to his followers not long before he went to the cross. Jesus is trying to prepare them, to live responsibly with God and with the world. He’s talking about loving one another, as he loves us.
So what is harder? Loving those we do not like, or loving those who do not like us? I guess most of us would be hard pressed to answer that question, and yet this week we may be required to do just that. It will be difficult but remember that Jesus loved us enough to give his very life for us.
And that is how the life of faith begins. With love. At first it is because we respond to the love of God through Jesus Christ, then we respond by loving God in return and finally that love is carried out into the world each and every day of our lives. How much better the world would be if all of the people who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ would truly act like it.
And if we profess to be Christians, if we say his life is truly in us and we are truly in him, then we do not have any option in this matter. Both at the beginning and at the end of this paragraph Jesus commanded to ‘love one another.’ But what kind of love are we talking about?
I believe Jesus’ to love one another is quite different. Jesus doesn’t just ask us, he commands us. Because real love, and that is God’s love, is a decision to act for the benefit of someone else no matter how you feel about them. And until we fully understand that there is no way we can even begin to obey our Lord’s command.
So how do we love those we do not like, or those who do not like us? Verse 9 says ‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.’ There is the key. Love comes naturally and flows fully out of a heart that is itself conscious of being totally loved by the God that created us. When Jesus found it difficult, he didn’t simply grit his teeth and try to be nice. He reflected on how the Father had loved him, and he was strengthened by the fact that the Father cherished him. Jesus said that by your words and your actions, they will know you are my disciples.

O Lord, from whom all good things come:
grant to us your humble servants,
that by your holy inspiration
we may think those things that are good,
and by your merciful guiding may perform the same.
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

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