Join Us for Worship on our facebook at Tomoka United Methodist Church. We are open for services every Sunday at 9:30 AM.

Recognized As Christians By Our Love

Scripture: John 14:15-21 CEB  

This week we continue to look at Jesus’ teaching that he gave on the night before His crucifixion. In this passage, we see Jesus’ love and care for His disciples, and also hear some guidance for their future. Jesus tells them, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (v.15) Jesus’ love is the foundation for this call to obedience. 

Jesus’ call is also for us. When we love Him, we will want to keep His commandments. When we obey Jesus, the people in our lives will know that Jesus is real and that He is near. They will recognize the love of God in our actions and be drawn to Him. In this way, Christians are meant to actively spread the good news of God’s love to others. So, how can we know that we love Jesus and are keeping His commandments? Jesus sums up God’s commands like this: Love God and love your neighbor. In John 13:34 Jesus also says, “love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Jesus’ sacrificial love is the ideal example of how we are to love others.

God also provides people in our lives who exemplify His love. Even during difficult times, we can recognize Jesus’ sacrificial love. I have a friend, I’ll call him John, who has been a good example to me of a person who follows Christ and loves others even amidst a very trying family situation. Over the short time that I have known John, I have seen that he is a godly Christian, a brilliant professional, and very dedicated to his family.

John’s family is lovely but they also face some medical challenges that have caused their immune systems to be compromised. John loves his family, and against all odds, he has held them together. One thing that amazes me is John’s sense of ministry, which spreads out beyond his family’s needs to his kids’ social world and also to whoever needs his professional services and knowledge.

John has a unique perspective on what it means to serve in this pandemic season. Because he must be mindful of protecting the fragile immune systems in his family, serving during the threat of the coronavirus is a continuation of his normal life. John said this to me, “

“During the last seven years, it’s been hard for me to describe to others the reasons why I can’t go to certain places and do certain things. You couldn’t understand unless you faced the challenges my family faces to stay healthy. We experience anxiety just doing normal things like going to school, to work, or to buy groceries. Due to our preexistent health conditions, we have had to wear masks, and people looked at us weird. How can I express what it’s like to function in a world wholly set up around healthy people when my family is not? Then COVID-19 hit. Now the rest of the world looks a LOT like our day to day life did before. Now more people can understand our daily life.”

In a sense, John and his family have been in training for this current pandemic situation. And the good news is that John isn’t the only obedient Christian around us. There are many others who are serving their neighbors in need. We can learn from these people and we can also help as God leads us. There are many who are helping the poor, lifting the lowly, assisting the elderly with their groceries, mowing their yard, driving the sick to appointments, all acting as obedient models of Jesus’ love. We can continue spreading God’s love in action as we serve others with compassion in spite of the particular challenges that we face. Our faith and love for Jesus transform us into ministers as we keep Jesus’ commandments to love others both within and outside of our families.

In our passage today, Jesus wasn’t telling his disciples to foster warm and good feelings for one another. He wants our love for God to increase, and this will lead to our obedience. Jesus told his disciples and is telling us that we need to love and take care of the people we already love, but also the people we don’t like that much. We are called to follow Jesus’ example, to encourage everyone who feels lonely, to heal and strengthen the sick, to act in loving ways toward one another.

We need to move beyond our family boundaries and share God’s love with everyone around us. If we can bring ourselves to love each other–to actively help each other––to take care of each other–our lives will be like a fresh ocean breeze that caresses and draws us to the Holy Spirit’s presence. Thus, we will show the world that we love Jesus and are keeping his commands. The people around us will recognize that God is with us and want to know Him.  

Let’s show that we are Christians by our love.