May 3 2015 Reflection

5th Sunday of Easter
WHEN WE ABIDE IN LOVE, WE ABIDE IN GOD

BIBLE READINGS
John 15:1-8
1 John 4:7-21

REFLECTION

The letters of John are often seen as a kind of commentaries to the Gospel of John. They broaden, deepen, expand, and explain the topics discussed in Johns Gospel.

Those who read Johns Gospel for the first time may say, Its all good to know that Jesus is the vine and we are all the branches (John 15:5). But how do we actually know that we abide in Jesus as the true vine? Well, our reading from the first letter of John offered the answer: we abide in Jesus, our true vine, when we show love to one another.

Indeed, according to the first letter of John, love is the essence of God. God is love and everyone who do not love do not know God (1John 4:8)." So whenever and wherever we see and experience love, we see and experience God because God is the source of all love in the world. Indeed, loving one another is the most tangible manifestation of Gods presence amongst us.

A young missionary couple once went to Cambodia to spread the Good News of Christ to the people who live there. In their mission field, they began a free English lesson, using the Bible as one of the readings. They also ran a local youth group and began a sports club. This couple was passionate about their work and love the people whom they served.

Once, someone made a video about their work. In the video, local men and women talked about the couple’s works amongst them. The locals testified about how much they treasured what these couple had done to them, especially the English lesson. They felt that the couple respected them and never embarrassed them for their wrong answers. As the result of the couple’s dedication, the locals felt loved; and because of that love, some of the locals became Christians.[1]

Friends, it is not enough only to confess that we believe in God and in Jesus whom God sent. Our belief must be reflected in our loving action to other people.

Indeed, we are called to bear much fruit: the fruit of love in our live. And the fruit that we produce will tell us of the kind of tree that we are attached to. If the fruit of our life is hatred or greed or self-indulgence, than we can be sure that we are not attaching ourselves to Jesus. But if the fruit of our life is love, a sacrificial kind of love, just like the one showed by those young missionaries, than we can be certain that God abides in us and we abide in God.

Sometimes I like to use a modern analogy to add to the analogy given to us in the Bible. Gods love is like a virus, not a bad virus, but a good one. Nobody can see a virus with his/her naked eyes, but we know what kind of virus that infects someone through the symptoms that the person shows. If a person is ‘infected’ by a virus of love, than that person will show the symptoms of love.

So perhaps, a modern rendering of Jesus words would sound something like this: I am the true virus and you are my carriers. Once you are infected by my love, you shall not contain it, but share it by infecting other people. Indeed, once we are infected by Gods love, we cant help but to infect other people with the same love; we cant help but to be the embodiment of Gods love in the world because as God is, so are we in the world (1 John 4:17).

Indeed, Gods love for us must become the origin and source of our love to others. We love because he first loved us (1 John 4: 19)." It doesnt mean that Gods love should replace our love for one another. No. It means that Gods love should inspire our love; Gods love should be the model of our love.

During the Word War II, a group of heavily armed and outlaw guerrillas terrorised people living in the war ravaged Philippines. The groups leader called himself, Sagad, which means broom in the local language. Indeed, he saw his job like a broom, sweeping the countryside, torturing and killing community leaders he accused of collaborating with the Japanese.

One of those leaders was a lawyer and a local judge. Fearing for his life, he escaped to a nearby village. Unfortunately, his family was left behind. They tried to hide in the forest, but, eventually, Sagad and his people found them.

They forced his wife to write a letter to him, telling him that Sagad would kill his family if he didnt return immediately. The man did what was asked of him. He surrendered himself to Sagad and was killed. He loved his family more than he loved his own life. His love for his family was real. And, because of his sacrifice, his family was alive.[2]

One of the poems that I enjoy the most is a poem about someone who asks Jesus, How big is your love for me? Jesus says, This big. He then stretches out his arms and dies on the cross.

When other people ask us, How much do you love us? would we dare to do the same thing? Would we dare to stretch out our arms and die for others, either metaphorically or literally?

God has given us the example of an unconditional love by sending his Son to the world to suffer and die for the world. If we want to abide in God, then we too must follow Gods example in Jesus. If we want to attach ourselves to the True Vine, than we must live the kind of life that Jesus lived: a life full of sacrificial love for others and for the world.

Amen.

[1] The Upper Room Devotional Guide, Proclaiming Christ in Love by Susan Thogerson Maas (April 30 2015).

[2] The Upper Room Daily Devotional, Sacrificial Love by Rudy B. Ines (March 17 2002).