May 27-29, 2017
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: John 15:9-17
“REMEMBER TO REMAIN IN CHRIST’S LOVE!”
1. It’s what He chose you for.
2. It’s seen in loving obedience.
John 15:9-17 (NIV 1984) “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. 10If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love. 11I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are My friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name. 17This is My command: Love each other.”
Originally it was called Decoration Day, this day we know as Memorial Day. Back in 1868 a group of veterans from the Union Army during the Civil War located in Decatur Illinois established a day for people to decorate the gravesites of Union soldiers who had died in the war. People would turn out in droves bringing flowers and other decorations, remembering those who had died. Eventually some other similar observances merged to become a national holiday. Memorial Day. Did you know that in the year 2000 Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act? It’s true. Now at 3 PM on Memorial Day all Americans are asked to stop what they are doing and to take a moment to remember those who died so we can enjoy freedom. I wonder why that was done. Do you suppose it’s because leaders in our country realized that too many Americans were not remembering? That for them Memorial Day had just become another paid holiday with a picnic if the weather is nice but too many were not remembering? You see, Memorial Day is a call to remember those who gave their lives for us. In the words of Jesus before us today we also hear a call to remember the one who gave His life for all. Jesus calls on us to remember to remain in His love. And just like we need to as Americans check how well we are remembering those who died for our country, as Christians we need to check how well we are remembering to remain in Christ’s love.
Why? It’s what you were chosen for. Jesus said, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name.” Jesus spoke these words to His disciples as they were gathered in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday when Jesus was betrayed. He wanted them to know things were going to be different. Their relationship would different. He called them His friends. Jesus has the right to call those who follow Him anything He wants but He chooses the word friends. Why? It gets to the heart of the matter, the age old question of why you do the things that you do. Because you have to or because you want to? Servants or slaves do what they are told because they have to. Now think of how it is with a friend. Have you ever had a friend who needed you? Was it a burden to help them, or a privilege? You know.
So is the way we live our lives for Jesus. It is our sinful nature that looks at God’s commands as burdensome. It is the inborn selfishness that chooses self over others. We all know how good it feels to get chosen for a position or a promotion. Just like He chose His disciples Jesus has chosen you and me. We didn’t decide to be loved by Jesus. We didn’t choose to be in His love. He chose us as friends. Friends of the King of kings and Lord of Lords. He picked us to be his own and appointed us to bear fruit that will last that means to do things that will have results lasting all the way to eternity.
How does that happen? When we remain in Christ’s love by obeying His commands. “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. 10If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love. 11I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are My friends if you do what I command. 17This is My command: Love each other.” Twice Jesus says it. “As I have…” As I have obeyed my Father. As I have loved you. He’s drawing our attention to the way we obey and the way we love so that we remain in His love. How did Jesus obey the Father? Perfectly probably jumps to your mind first and right there you are saying, “Well that’s not going to happen.” We know that no matter how hard we try the sinful nature even in us Christians is so strong we are not capable of perfect obedience. The only reason we are perfect in God’s eyes is because Jesus gives us His obedience. But there is another way that Jesus obeyed the Father that you and I can do. Willingly.
Children, I know that sometimes you struggle to obey your parents. And sometimes the only reason you obey them is so you don’t get in trouble, so that you don’t get punished. Did you know that doesn’t really make your parents happy? Sure they are glad that you obeyed but they don’t really enjoy forcing you. Do you know what makes them happy? Ask them. It’s when you obey willingly, because you want to without getting threatened. When you smile and say OK mommy. OK daddy. Just like Jesus said to His Father. Here I am. I have come to do your will. Not my will but yours be done. That’s love based obedience. And that’s a sign that we are remembering to stay in Christ’s love. Willing obedience. And we can do that because Jesus first loved us.
And what to obey isn’t really hard to figure out either. “Love each other. As I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” That takes us back to Memorial Day doesn’t it? The history books are full of the true stories of soldiers who lay down their lives for their friends, who jumped on the grenade to protect the rest, who went through murderous machine gun fire to rescue an injured comrade. When you read about their heroic actions or see it replayed on TV or as a movie you easily recognize the honor of sacrificial love. As one chosen by Jesus you are uniquely equipped to see much more. You see a picture of Jesus. That’s how He loved us. He lay down His life for us.
His followers do the same. The Bible showed us the Deliverer Samson giving his life to free his people from the idol worshipping Philistines and Stephen trustingly giving his life for Jesus. Now we probably are not going to get opportunities or be asked to give our lives for each other but we certainly can live our lives for each other. Part of that is easy to figure out. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. How do you want to be treated? But Jesus adds something here. “Love each other as I have loved you,” said Jesus. Jesus cared about where we would spend our eternal lives. He gave Himself not for our perceived needs of food for our bellies and healing for our diseases. He gave Himself for our eternal needs. That’s how we show we are remaining in Christ’s love, caring about the eternal needs of others. Don’t get me wrong. Helping with physical needs is great. You’ve responded to food drives and clothing drives and shoe drives. You help each other with rides and meals when there is need. “As I have loved you,” said Jesus. “Fruit that will last,” said Jesus. When you pray for each other’s spiritual needs, when you have the Jesus talk with the family member, when you give offerings to proclaim Christ here or through missions, that’s fruit that will last. That’s loving others as we’ve been loved by Christ. It shows we are remaining in Christ’s love.
So what do you think you will do at 3 PM on Monday? Will you remember to remember? More importantly what will you do with the words of God we have heard? Remember. Remember to remain in Christ’s love. Amen.