By Chuck Williams
Interim Pastor, First Baptist Church, Milan
Some things for me are hard to believe. It’s hard for me to believe that I grew up in a home where the telephone was attached to the wall. Hard for me to believe that when I changed channels on the television I had to get up from the couch and walk over to it. Hard to believe that I rarely got to see Bonanza because it played from 6:30-7:30 on Sunday night. It’s hard for me to believe I actually survived!!
Please indulge my sarcasm, but on a serious note, what is really hard to believe is that Jesus chose me, became my friend, loved me and laid down His life for me. How is that magnificent love manifested? We discover how in John 15:9-17.
Obedient love — This love was to be the number one mark of a believer. It was not to be whimsical, mystical, or purely emotional. Obedience to His commands would be the natural flow of a believer. It is the thermometer showing how hot or cold our passion for Jesus ran.
Disobedient love brings no joy or fulfillment to life. The disobedient believer is silently unhappy in sin and miserable at church. Following the commands of Christ is too great, but the burden of rebellion is heavier. They cannot enjoy the world’s enticements, nor can they look forward to their heavenly home. Sadly, they are stuck between the Rock (Jesus) and the hard place (the world). Only coming to the shadow of the cross can soften the disobedient heart and return its joy.
Sacrificial love — The greatest demonstration of love is when one lays down their life for another. First responders can tell many stories of holding back people whose loved ones are in a death trap such as a burning house. They are willing to lose their life to save a family or friend’s life.
Friendship love — “Friend” is a quality word that shines a special light on the believer’s life. It speaks of confidant; one who knows the intimacies of another’s heart. This term originated among eastern kings and Roman emperors.
A select group was called “friends” because they were closest to the king. They had immediate access at almost any time. He would consult with his ‘friends’ before talking to generals, rulers, and statesmen (from Commentary on John, William Barclay, 1907-1978). Hard to believe that we have been given this same access into the King of Kings courtroom.
Fruitful love — All fruit on earth is temporary, but the fruit the Savior speaks of is eternal, sweet and nourishing. Jesus had said earlier that if you will stay attached to Me (the Vine) there will be an abundance flow through you which this world cannot comprehend. Sadly, many Christians have fruit which has withered and dried. For those who stay attached, their joy will never stop, and their growth (sanctification) will never cease.
What does the fruit look like? Galatians 5:22-23 says it will be a godly attitude. Philippians 1:11 says it will be righteous behavior, and Romans 1:13-16 indicates it will be winning the lost.
This love is as eternal as the Father and greater than any kingdom. We can’t comprehend it, but we can certainly rejoice in it.