Lectionary Reflection: John 15: 9-17: A Long Way to Go

            The key, the one thing above all that Jesus made a command for us, the only thing he ever commanded straight out was that we love one another.  Boy, have we got a long way to go.

            You know the story about the two Baptists who were shipwrecked on a deserted island?  They needed food, clothing and shelter, but both agreed that the spiritual life had to be taken care of first.  So they started the First Baptist Church………………………..and the Second Baptist Church.

            Keeping the command to love one another is the source of promised joy.  It is worthy of laying down our life for our beloved.  It makes us friends with Jesus.  It is God’s most intimate business, his desire, that we love one another.  This is the only fruit that will last, for always.  In the end there are only faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.  Man!  Have we got a long way to go.

            You know how gossips can be.  They can destroy the harmony in a congregation faster than a church fire.  Back during the Hundred Years War churches fought each other over minute and insignificant theological points.  But these days no one even thinks theologically.  These days we argue and despise each other over church building programs.  You know the little chairs that were used for children’s church forty years ago?  Some want to hold on to those chairs while others want to give them to Goodwill, and they fight about it – bad feelings, hard feelings, hateful feelings and all that. 

            Worse:  these days it so quickly falls to personal attacks, and how the gossipers love to fan those flames.  People take sides, but the “for” side never gets much of a hearing.  The “against” side is about the only thing people talk about… Long way to go.

            About the only time anything Biblical or theological comes up is when the minister (preacher) suggests Christianity might require something more than just showing up on Sunday morning – when people feel like it.  Why do you think stewardship sermons are so universally hated?  Of course, when the preaching touches on any hot “political” topic, things really get heated.  I know one Pastor who was threatened to have his bags packed for him and tossed from the second story window of the church house.

            Let me be clear:  Abortion, homosexuality, divorce and all like things are perfectly valid topics for Christians.  Contorting the Scriptures to support an already decided position is not acceptable, and I know plenty of preachers are as guilty as many church members.  But that does not mean to avoid such subjects.  Unless you are afraid…

            People need (I underline need) to hear clear God-based teaching on controversial subjects, and it ought to be the Christian perspective that has been taught from the time of Christ to the present (not just what is politically correct or socially expedient or only what is in line with the culture or what happens to be one person or many person’s contorted, contemporary position or opinion).  The teaching and preaching needs to express what the church has always taught?  No, what the faith has always taught on these issues since the beginning.  People need to know what is right, good and true in God’s eyes, what has always been right good and true in God’s opinion, not what is in the eyes of our social and political desires.

            Of course, people will get mad and yell a lot.  People will hate and resort to attempts at personal destruction.  I, myself, have received death threats for standing firmly in the faith.  And one place I have always stood is on love one another.  I try, regardless of how I am treated in return.  I might not be very good at it, but love for the people of God is in my heart and my breath in every word, even when I say things people don’t want to hear.

            We have a long way to go to keep his command that we love one another.  But understand:  That is where we all need to go.

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