• Steven Marsh

Peace–If You Love Jesus: a Reflection on John 14:15-21

If you love Jesus… Add the word “then” and tell me what loving Jesus looks like. If you describe what loving Jesus looks like in the indicative mood, you describe the way things are. But if you use the imperative mood, you describe the way things ought to be. For example, loving Jesus sees hungry people. Loving Jesus feeds hungry people. Loving Jesus matters. “The gift that overcomes the world’s exclusions—the horrible disjunctions between life as we imagine it realistically and life as it might be—is the loving that God is…the infinite love for the world that we are commanded to enact.”[1] Loving Jesus by loving others enacts well-being in others. It brings peace.

Bryan Stevenson brings peace to those who may be wrongly accused and convicted. In Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson writes this regarding individuals who love the unlovable. “Mrs. Jennings was rarely disagreeable or argumentative, but I had learned that she would grunt when someone said something she didn’t completely accept. She told me, ‘We’ve all been through a lot, Bryan, all of us. I know that some have been through more than others. But if we don’t expect more from each other, hope better for one another, and recover from the hurt we experience, we are surely doomed.”[2] The Jennings family helped Charlie get is GED while in prison and paid for his college education after his release. Are you building your life with actions of loving God and loving others?

You remember the devastation in Haiti after the earthquake January 12, 2010. Palmer Chichen personally observed the decimation of houses built with too much sand and not enough steel:

Sand is cheap…because of poverty…many Haitians built their cement-block homes, [using] more sand…in their mortar mix. And because steel is expensive, they didn’t use enough…in the columns and ring beams. So when the ground quaked, homes crumbled; there was too much sand and not enough steel. It was a tragedy of poverty. In our own poverty of spirit, we try to build…marriages with too much anger and not enough love … and they crumble. We build reputations on too much pride and not enough humility … and they crumble. We build families on too much busyness and not enough time … and they crumble. We build friendships on too much criticism and not enough grace … and they crumble.[3]

Look around you this morning. You see familiar faces and some new ones. Jesus promises to be “in” us. That is the benefit of placing your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Two points for your consideration. First, “in” is a tiny word. Two letters make up the word. It’s a preposition. But, it is the “subject” that makes the word “in” so incredible. God, the creator, redeemer, and advocate dwells in us. The God of the universe lives “in” those who love God and love others, even when the world appears to be spinning out of control. Second, Jesus was a force on the move.[4] Think of all the time spent with the sick, outcast, and marginalized in society. Recall the discussions about the void of religion. When we remember Jesus, we do not remember him praying, but being a person of action.

Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to love God and love others. When we love God and others, the “ought” becomes reality. Love wins. Death loses. And this is done by putting love in action. Love in action is a church that gathers and scatters; where fans are turned into followers and consumers become missionaries; where inclusion is and people live in authentic intergenerational community.[5] So, if you’re tired of religion and want to be blown away by Jesus living “in” people; if you want to put the action of Jesus in action; and if you want to be a part of a community who love doing and being church differently; then join us and be a force of Jesus for the common good.

[1]Larry B. Bouchard in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 2 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 494.

[2]Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy (New York City, New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2014), 115.

[3]As cited on preachingtoday.com. The citation is found in Palmer Chichen, God Can’t Sleep (David C. Cook, 2011), 185-186.

[4]See Linda Lee Clader in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Feasting on the Word, Year A, 493.

[5]These concepts are gleaned from Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2010), 26.

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