February 28, Sunday
The Word Commands*
John 15:8-17 (NRSV)
My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
Command. Just the very word seems a little... well...commanding. Makes me squirm a little. Unfortunately, I’ve shared space with a little rebel in me all my life. She needles me like an evil twin: “Be independent. You don’t have to take orders from anyone.” But if I adhere to that advice, I often have to ask myself, “How’s that working for you?” We take orders, or commands, from parents, lawmakers, law enforcers, professors, and employers. The military is inundated with commanders. We even live in a country under the leadership of a Commander-in-Chief. In fact, if I’m honest, I must admit I am formed by these various commands: I am an honest, law-abiding citizen, I am educated, I have maintained gainful employment and am in good standing with my family and community. Following basic commands in each of these areas of my life has then opened literally thousands of opportunities for growth, satisfaction and happiness.
The Old Testament is obviously saturated with commands. From the Ten Commandments came thousands of ancillary commands for God’s people. I am convinced had I been an Old Testament Jewish woman the little evil-twin rebel in me would have played havoc with my obedience. But then came Jesus! He fulfilled the law and brought grace and truth (John 1:17). And, He brought a new commandment, one that trumped all other commandments: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Living in obedience to this command will transform every facet of my life. Following the very heart of this command will be harder than all other commands combined. It will, however, form me into the person I want to be – a disciple of Jesus Christ.
How are you doing with following your Commander-in-Chief, Jesus Christ? After all, he only gives one over-arching command.
Jesus, give me eyes to see the many opportunities to love others; and give me the courage to follow your command to love even as you have loved me.
By Dianne Swaim, former Moderator of CBF of Arkansas
Deacon, Second Baptist Church, Little Rock
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