Love in Action

Love in Action

Pastor Mitch Coggin May 14, 2023 Easter A

In John 14, Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” How do we love God? What are Jesus’ commandments?

How do you act when you love someone? Consider something or someone that you love like your grandchild. You want to spend time with them. You might want to read the newspaper but they want to play “Go Fish”and so you do. You see the world in terms of their lives and well-being.

In his book, You Are What You Love, James K.A. Smith writes, Loving God is more a matter of hungering and thirsting than of knowing and believing. Jesus’s command to follow him is a command to align our loves and longings with his; to want what God wants, to desire what God desires, to hunger and thirst after God and crave a world where he is all in all– a vision encapsulated by…”the kingdom of God.” Jesus is a teacher who doesn’t just inform our intellect but forms our very loves.

We must be in love with God before we can follow the example of Jesus in keeping His commandments…

In Acts, I am drawn to that phrase, “In him we live and move and have our being,” that seems to describe this kind of love.

Paul is preaching in Athens to the philosophers who followed pagan religions. The Athenians gods were impersonal and inanimate. Paul begins his sermon by recognizing what they already have, ““Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way.” They were so religious that they did not want to offend any god they didn’t know so they built an altar with the inscription to “an unknown god.”

Paul took the inscription on the altar as his text for his sermon. He proceeded to tell the Athenians that he would reveal to them the “unknown God” that they worshiped ignorantly. Paul used a modification of poems from the fourth and sixth century that would be known by his Greek audience that said, “for we are indeed his offspring,” to point to a living God in whom we “live and move and have our being.”

Let’s consider that verse and what it means for us. How do we love God with our lives? Do we spend time with God in our private thoughts and practices? Do we talk to God as comfortably as we do another person across the table? Do we consider how Jesus would respond in our dealings with others? Where is our mind and heart in our worship this morning?

Christian author Kathleen Norris’ offers a list of the “imperatives” from the words of Jesus: Look at the birds
Consider the lilies
Drink ye all of it
Enter by the narrow gate
Do not be anxious
Judge not; do not give dogs what is holy
Do not be afraid
Remember me
Her poem describes how we live out our love for Jesus.

Jesus said, “If you love me keep my commandments.” The birds and the lilies don’t worry about the next day, we emulate their trust that they have what they need. Jesus says do not be anxious or afraid which invites us to a different mindset that comes from our awareness that we are not in control.

Jesus lived out love in his relationships, attitude, and behaviours. He prioritized meeting each person’s immediate needs. He touched those who society considered untouchable–the sick, women, children, and persons of different races and cultures were all accepted as equals rather than stigmatized as lower than. If you love me, keep my commandments.

Jesus invites us to imagine power that has love as its goal. This love makes a positive difference in how we walk around in our daily lives. Imagine that we have incredible influence in the three feet or so around>
Folk singer Carrie Newcomer creates a song that explains the power of three feet or so… We are body skin and bones
We’re all the loss we’ve ever know
What is gone is always near
We’re all the love that brought us here
We don’t have to search for love
Wring our hands and wring our hearts
All we have to do is know
The love will find us in the dark
And the things that have saved us
Are still here to save us
It’s not out there somewhere
It’s right here it’s right here
I can’t change the whole world
But I can change the world I know
What’s within three feet or so If you love me, Jesus says… We don’t have to search for love Wring our hands and wring our hearts All we have to do is know The love will find us in the dark
Do we believe that God is not far from each one? Indeed our own Affirmation of Faith can claim… in Him we live and move and have our being? May it be so for each of us!