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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Easter 6: Why Love?

John 14:23-29
"Those who love me will keep my commandments," Jesus begins today. Love and obedience are a unified reality in the Bible. Jesus does the will of His Father because of love. True love is more than a feeling; it is a decision in the heart which shapes behaviors. But 'love' is more than 'obedience'!

If we love Jesus and keep His word then He and the Father will make their home in us [the Greek word 'mone';occurs only in John 14:2 where Jesus says the Father's house has many dwelling places and He goes to prepare one for each of us]. Love is a relational bond. Obedience can be based on fear or self-seeking. It does not always form a life-giving bond. Love does bond. It changes us into a Temple where the Father resides with the Incarnate Word and Holy Spirit.

Hebrew has only one word for obedience: shama. However 'shama' also means 'hear' or 'listen.' To obey God one must hear. We listen to the Beloved to know His desire. The Father speaks His Word (Jesus) into us. When we listen to God, hear God, and obey God, His Word finds a home in my heart. This is what Jesus is saying; loving obedience opens us to a transformational-relationship.The Love opens us to Jesus Who desires to unleash the fullness of life and salvation. But the gift of the Kingdom is like a seed. It is an organic process that can move slowly and requires trust and faith. 

Two gifts of God's Kingdom are mentioned today. Jesus promises the 'paraclete'--the Holy Spirit Whom we will hear about more on Pentecost.

The other gift is peace. Kingdom shalom is different from what the world calls peace. Peace in the world is based on outward circumstances. It is often a function of power and control, even oppression. The World says peace is based on what I have or possess. The kingdom shalom-peace is different, it is the internal peace of being had by the Lord and possessed by God. It is the peace of the indwelling Holy Three in the power of the cross. Filled with the Holy Three, peace within us then flows outward to create the abundant society where all have a place, all have their needs met. Peace is the gift of God which creates an attitude of trusting love. When we believe that Jesus speaks truth, we have hope that all will be well someday.

The love of God is "soteriological"--it saves, rescues, heals, renews, strengthens, beautifies, sanctifies. It heals the illness of body, soul and spirit. It makes us holy vessels containing the Holy Three.

Why does love matter? Because it connects us to one another and to God. And that connection to God opens us to possibilities beyond our imagination.

Love, (obedient hearing) creates a new environment. The Holy Three change our hearts and our vision. The amazing promises of Jesus sound less like a fantasy and more like a mission mandate. We will see ourselves as Word-filled, Spirit-filled; chosen by God, Holy and Beloved.

Why is love so important? Because it creates a God-friendly environment where He can rescue and renew His people....
Why is love so important? Because love is obedient and when we obey Jesus we are open to receive and give abundant blessings...
Why is love so important? Because it makes us a Temple--home for the Holy Three...
Why is love so important? Because Love makes us the powerful apostles who forgive sinners, teach the nations, heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead and proclaim with steadfast faith the Good News.

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