If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:10-12
On Facebook there is a place where you can put in your relationship status, and one of the options is “It’s Complicated”. So I ask; what human relationship is NOT complicated? And how much more so, then, is our relationship with the Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Creator and Sustainer of the universe?
Something amazing happens in this message Jesus gives to his disciples. In it he gives the usual call to “bear fruit”, or go out and make a difference in the world, but he also takes the relationship with his “students” to another level. They are no longer just his followers; now they are also his “friends”. But this was not instant; this came after three long years of following, learning, and working as Jesus’ disciples.
Most friendships do not include commands and talk of “following the master”, but then most teacher/student relationships do not involve “loving one another” and “laying down one’s life” either. This relationship was definitely beyond what we would call “normal”.
Most Christians fall into one of two different camps; either they see Jesus as their Master and Lord, one to be feared and obeyed, or they see Jesus as the gentle Shepherd or Friend, who loves them no matter what. You could say these are classic conservative/liberal ways of seeing Jesus.
But, just as Jesus’ message is often difficult to wrap our heads around, so our relationship with him can be confusing and complicated at times. The fact is that Jesus is our Lord and Master, and he is our Brother and Friend. It’s when we try to fit Jesus into our typical mold of human thinking that things get messy.
God is not simple.
So, our relationship with God is “complicated”. We are loved and cared for by our Savior, the greatest Shepherd to ever live. But we are also called by our Lord and Master to follow his commands, live by his rules, and strive toward his perfecting goals for us.
And today’s command is to “love one another as I have loved you.”
Grace and Peace,