I hope and pray this letter finds you well. We continue this week from where we left off last week. What are the things that you joyful? Do you enjoy spending time with friends or family, something we are gradually being allowed to do, going on holiday, spending time with nature, a particular hobby or perhaps enjoying fine dining? Whatever it may be having quality time to do the things we enjoy and make us joyful is essential in having a contented and balanced life. When contemplating the things in life which make you joyful, did church feature in your thinking? Did prayer, meditation or Bible-reading cross your mind? Was being part of a discovery group on your list?
The reading begins in John 15: 9 -17 when Jesus continues to unpack the passage discussing the concept of the vine and the branches. Jesus explains because God the Father has loved Him, He in turn loves us. Jesus reiterates the importance of remaining in His love, not deviating away but keeping steadfast in Him. He urges us to keep His commands, in the same way that He has kept the Father’s commands. By telling us this, He has done so that our joy may be complete. By following Him and obeying His commands we can have life in all its fullness and experience joy as a part of this.
Jesus then goes onto expand the point about love, explaining that you cannot show greater love for someone than laying down your life for them. This links with His death and resurrection that He was to face. Remember Jesus was originally sharing these words with the disciples as a part of His farewell address prior to His death. He explains that if the disciples follow His commands, then they are His friends. Jesus further expands this by stating that He no longer calls the disciples servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Whereas because of all the teaching Jesus has learnt from the Father, He has shared with the disciples, He now considers them equals. By virtue of this statement, that also applies to us too.
The next verse tends to be quite controversial in theological circles because they concern the concept of Calvinism. Jesus says that ‘you did not choose me but that I choose you’ now a Calvinist would argue that God picks and chooses His followers whereas in the Methodist tradition stemming from the teaching of John Wesley we take an Arminian approach. This means that instead of viewing the phrase as exclusive, Jesus was in fact saying He choose us all to die for and it is for us to choose whether we in turn accept Him. So, in other words, instead of some people being chosen and others not, all our offered the chance to accept Jesus. Jesus summarises the teaching thus far, with the simple exhortation: love each other. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if this happened? However, let us start with us, let us love one another and make our little corner of the world, a happy and joyful place where Jesus is followed, and His commands are respected and obeyed.
May our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Love, bless us now and always,