Abiding Love: John 15:12-17

The world is shifting. Nation against nation; political party against political party; infighting in friend groups and families, and even infighting in the church. It seems that, with every passing moment, people’s attitudes, circumstances and experiences are changing. 

Yet Jesus calls us to be different, to be set apart. In the early parts of His farewell discourse, Jesus outlines the foundation of what it looks like to follow Him: to abide in Him. He reminds the disciples, and subsequently us, that nothing can be done apart from Him (John 15:5). 

But what does it mean to abide? What does it look like to live rooted in Christ? When the world around us changes, Jesus tells us that abiding in Him looks like loving one another (John 15:12). Jesus teaches us in John 15:12-17 what it looks like to love one another; He shows us where this kind of love that should characterize our lives as His followers, comes from. 

Our Standard Challenged (v. 13)

In our world, there seems to be a number of definitions of what love is. If you asked five different people, you’d probably get the same amount of differing answers. It feels at times that these perceptions of love are competing with one another. 

However, Jesus gives his followers an eternal perspective, an eternal standard for love: “laying one’s life down for his friends.” Now obviously, we’d like to take that literally by saying we’d sacrifice ourselves if our friends are in harm’s way. But this is an extreme and only part of what Jesus is saying. He’s talking about a sacrificial lifestyle toward others; He’s inviting us to give ourselves fully to one another. However, we cannot love one another fully in and of ourselves. We have to love others out of being loved…being loved by Jesus, who loved us deeply enough to lay down His earthly life for us. 

Our Status Changed (v. 14-15)

“Status” is a word that gets thrown around, often being tied to whether or not someone is in a relationship and if it is public knowledge on social media. From being married, in a relationship, to being single, people are interested in status. But if our love is supposed to be set apart from the rest of the world, we have to rest in our status in relationship to Jesus. He, the perfect prophet, priest, and king, has never waivered or changed. 

When we think about kings, it usually entails this idea that they are served by others–subjects or slaves, if you will. While this is a part of rule and reign that we see on earth, that’s not the kind of rule and reign Jesus practices. Those who follow this King are called His friends. He invites them into what the Father has revealed and taught through Him. The King has loved us enough to call us His friend and that is where we live from. Our friendship with King Jesus is the place from which we are able to love one another. 

Our Soul Chosen (v. 16)

Not only has the standard been challenged and our status changed, but in Christ, we are chosen. Loving one another means that we are set apart for His Kingdom and His purposes. We have been tasked to live obedient lives in the power of the Holy Spirit; lives that reflect the light of King in a dark and unloving world. In Christ, the Father has tasked believers to be representatives of Christ so that others may come to know Him; so that others may come to know what abiding love looks like. 

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