Bible Reading: John 15:9-17

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:12-14)

God’s pathway to joy is the pathway of Christlike obedience. Yet what does such obedience look like? 

The key is how we must love others in the manner of Christ’s love for us. Love these days is a very relative term. One could say, “I love pizza”, and another could say, “I love you, mum”. Love, in one case, is very different from the other. Love for pizza is more of a greater-than-average liking of an inanimate object, while love between a mother and child is something relational that far surpasses pizza love. Not to mention Hollywood’s (or K-drama’s) depiction of love that has flooded our perceptions. Films and TV shows bombard us with false perceptions of romantic love that are in and of itself selfish and overly sexualised. With so many lies about love, what is the true love that Christ talks about?

True love is not a feeling or emotion. True love only has one definition found in the person of Christ. 

“God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

(1 John 4:8b-10)

This is how Christ loved us. He came from heaven to earth, from glory to shame, from His kingly throne to an earthly manger. He did this to die for sinful men who deserve nothing but wrath. The Author of Life was willing to sacrifice His life and accept death on our behalf. The Holy chose to bear the wrath of the sinner. The King willingly became the Lamb to be slaughtered. What is “laying down his life”? Philippians 2:6-10 says,

“Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

(Philippians 2:6-10)

This is love, Christ’s complete abasement for our salvation. Love is sacrifice, but not sacrifice of human terms. It is an impossible sacrifice made by God for our redemption. It is a sacrifice that redeems us from sin yet brings Him all the glory. As Ephesians 3:19 mentions, Christ’s love, true love, is one that “surpasses knowledge”. We must pray to catch a glimpse of it, to realise its gravity and depth. 

Christ’s call for joy is through obedience. And obedience is a call for perfect submission to love as Christ loves. It is a call to give up your life to seek lost souls. It is a call to lose your life for the sake that others may find theirs in Christ. Christ calls us His friends because He has laid down His life to seek us, redeem us, and give us life. He has given us the greatest love. He calls us to follow in His footsteps. He calls us to love one another with such sacrificial love that others may find life in Christ. As God’s church, do we love another? Do we love those out there who need Christ? 

Rest assured in His faithfulness. Though our fruit may be small, God will work to bear fruit because His Holy Spirit is at work (1 John 4:13). Will we abide in Him? Will we trust Him? Will we give Christ our all, our love? This is the path of obedience. This is the path of joy. 

Lord, here is my one life. You loved me with the true love, and there is no greater love than this, that You laid down Your life for me, to reconcile me with You, to call me Your friend. Please forgive me; I have not understood what love truly is. I still don’t understand. Show me, O Lord, the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that I may catch a glimpse of Your glory. Teach me to live in love, and help me love as You love. Teach me to love my brothers and sisters in Christ, and teach me to love those who desperately need You. I know I am weak; please help me. I trust in You, for apart from You, I can do nothing. Thank You, Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.