May 16, 2004

John 14:23-29

[23] "Because a loveless world," said Jesus, "is a sightless world. If anyone loves me, he will carefully keep my word and my Father will love him—we'll move right into the neighborhood! [24] Not loving me means not keeping my words. The message you are hearing isn't mine. It's the message of the Father who sent me.

[25] "I'm telling you these things while I'm still living with you. [26] The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. [27] I'm leaving you well and whole. That's my parting gift to you. Peace. I don't leave you the way you're used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don't be upset. Don't be distraught.

[28] "You've heard me tell you, 'I'm going away, and I'm coming back.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I'm on my way to the Father because the Father is the goal and purpose of my life.

[29] "I've told you this ahead of time, before it happens, so that when it does happen, the confirmation will deepen your belief in me.

 [The Message]

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 1. What does it take to love Jesus? For some, very little. For some, much. When we love Jesus we become the Word, even as he is the Word. This, seemingly, is not easily handled by us and we begin to narrow Jesus to our words about him. We perceive ourselves so in tune with Jesus that we begin excluding those we consider out of tune or sync with us, and thus, with Jesus. It takes a great deal of humility to love Jesus.

 2. What does it take to love Jesus? Humility, yes, but also interconnection with other experiences of GOD. This "Friend" of Jesus needs to be our Friend as well. Unfortunately a part of what this Friend does is to remind us of "everything" Jesus said. Our tendency is to pick and choose a gospel from within the gospel. We find things that agree with our perspective and discount, explain away, or simply ignore those pictures of Jesus that would bring us some ambiguity. It takes a great deal of interconnection with the whole tradition of Jesus in order to love, just as it takes a great deal of interconnection with anyone to love even the parts that challenge us.

3. What does it take to love Jesus? Humility, interconnection, and joy. The love looked for is not an ethereal love, holy love, human love, family love, erotic love, but love in all its guises that enhances the joy quotient of life for ourselves and others. Rejoice that Jesus is so focused on God that he can be focused on everyone he encounters. We might ordinarily be jealous of someone loving someone or something beyond our self, but here it is this very extra-me love that brings a value-added love to me. It takes a great deal of joy to love Jesus deeply enough to finally search out our larger joy and pass it on to others.

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