John 15:9-17; ABIDE IN MY LOVE (5-10-15)

 

There is a story about a native from a remote mountain village who visited a large modern city for the first time.

It was the first time he had ever seen electric lights before.

He was amazed that they were everywhere; and how they lit up the night.

He was not a rich man, but he wanted to share this modern miracle with his neighbors and friends back at his village.

So he bought a sack full of electric light bulbs and sockets and switches.

Arriving home, he hung the light bulbs in front of his home and on his trees.

Everyone watched with curiosity and asked what he was doing.

He smiled and said: “Just wait until dark—you’ll see.”

When night came he turned on the switches—but nothing happened.

No one had told him about electricity.

He did not know that light bulbs were useless unless they are connected to a power source.

Jesus said: “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”(John 15:5)

This is the secret of Christian living: we must abide in Jesus.

Too many Christians try to live without the POWER OF JESUS.

They rely on their education, job, family, finances, and wits.

But when the sun sets and night comes—they reach for the switch and nothing happens.

They find themselves in the dark—bewildered and frightened.

Years ago at the Tournament of Roses Parade in California, the Standard Oil Company (now Chevron) had a beautiful float.

In the middle of the parade, the Standard Oil Company’s float came to a grinding halt and the rest of the parade with it.

Everyone wondered what the problem was: mechanical problems, poor construction of the float, personnel issues?

NO! IT HAD RUN OUT OF GAS!

The directors of the Standard Oil Company had done everything well in constructing a beautiful float—but they neglected to use their company’s vast resources of petroleum and fill the tank.

Ironic isn’t it—they overlooked such a simple task.

The parade waited while someone ran to get a gallon of gas.

Do we do the same thing?

Do we live our lives without being connected to Jesus?

Do we break down in the middle of our parade because we are not full of God’s love?

I know Christians just like this!

I remember a particular woman in a church I served many years ago.

Even before I met her—everyone told me about her.

They said: “She is such a religious woman.”

It was true—she was at church every time the doors were open.

It was true—she always carried her Bible with her.

It was true—her public prayers were eloquent and beautiful.

She was very religious—it seemed the subject of religion was always on her mind, on her lips, in every conversation, and the very center of her life.

I didn’t have any problems with any of these things.

As I got to know her better, I began to notice a disturbing reality.

Every time the subject of the poor, the unemployed, divorced persons, alcoholics, people of another race, or anyone else who was different from her was discussed—she became relentless in her criticism.

She was without mercy or compassion.

She was full of judgment and condemnation.

I began to wonder: “where is the love of Jesus?”

Is she abiding in the love of God?

Is she connected to Jesus?

Does she not know that to be a Christian you HAVE to be connected to the love of Jesus?

Jesus said: “As he Father has loved me, so I love you; abide in my love.”(John 15:9)

Jesus uses his own life and ministry as a model of love.

Jesus lived love before his disciples.

He rubbed shoulders with them, worked with them, played with them, worshipped with them, rejoiced with them, and wept with them.

Jesus showed the ultimate sign of love by dying for them.

He said: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

If you want to know God’s love—look at Jesus

Frederick Moffett wrote the classic definition of education.

It is titled: “How a Child Learns.”

“Thus a child learns,

       By wiggling skills through his fingers and toes, into himself,

       By soaking up habits and attitudes of those around him.

       By pushing and pulling through his own world.

Thus a child learns,

       More through trial and error,

       More through pleasure than pain,

       More through experience than suggestion and telling,

       And more through suggestion than through direction.

And thus a child learns,

       Through affection, through love, through patience,

       Through understanding, through belonging,

       Through doing and through being.

Day by day the child comes to know a little bit of what you know, a little more of what you think and understand.

That which you dream and believe are in truth what is becoming in that child.

As you perceive dully or clearly,

As you think fuzzily or sharply,

As you believe foolishly or wisely,

As you dream drably or goldenly,

As you bear false witness or tell the truth,

Thus a child learns,”

Much is in the news today about our youth and children being trained in the ways of terror and anarchy.

We are shocked and dismayed that some extremists are waging war through such a young and impressionable population.

We in the Church must be faithful to our mission: to wage peace!

We have always been called to teach our children to follow Jesus’ commandments: abide in the Love of Jesus.

This has revolutionary impacts—abiding in the love of Jesus is the answer for our generation.

This has always been God’s mission.

Long before Fred Moffett discovered the principle of good education—Our Heavenly Father reached out to teach His children God’s ways.

God sent his beloved Son Jesus to teach us love.

Day by day, Jesus taught his disciples through his great love.

He taught them with the patience of a great teacher.

Using Moffett’s words:

Jesus taught with affection, patience, understanding, belonging, doing and being.

Jesus allowed them to wiggle new skills through their fingers and toes.

Jesus allowed them to learn through trial and error.

Jesus allowed them to observe Jesus’ devotional life.

The disciples saw Jesus’ clear vision of the Kingdom of God.

The disciples heard Jesus’ sharp thinking on God’s purposes.

The disciples experienced Jesus’ beliefs in a faithful God.

The disciples perceived Jesus’ wisdom in the ways of God.

The disciples marveled at Jesus’ golden dreams of a new creation.

Jesus showed the disciples his secret in John 15:10—

“I have kept my Father’s commands and abide in his love…”

This is the heart of Christian discipleship: Abide in God’s love.

Christian Love= AGAPE.

AGAPE has a distinctive meaning in the Greek language.

This is not brotherly love—the love you feel for family/friends.

This is not romantic love—the love you feel for lover/spouse.

Agape love = the act for another at cost to yourself.

Agape love is selfless, sacrificial love that cares for others first.

Jesus gave himself up for each of us when he died on the cross.

Jesus gave the ultimate demonstration of AGAPE love.

Jesus gives us his instruction: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

This is the key to Christian Discipleship:

We learn the love of Jesus through practice, worship, and other means of grace.

We practice the love of Jesus through good works, outreach, and other care ministries.

We always focus on the AGAPE love of Jesus.

Jesus commands us to ABIDE IN MY LOVE!

       Trust in God as your root.

       Trust in Jesus as your vine.

       Learn to be Jesus’ branches:

       Bear the fruit of love;

       Produce agape fruit—sacrifice self and serve others;

       Become the fruit of Jesus—lay down your life for others

Goal of Discipleship= practicing AGAPE love;

       This is true religion;

       This is our Christian goal;

       This is how we grow in our Discipleship;

       This is how we wage Peace—practice AGAPE love.