Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 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. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your
joy may be complete.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love
than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing;
but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from
my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit
that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you
these commands so that you may love one another.” John 15:9-17
Any parent, child, spouse or partner, if they are honest, will tell you that loving is hard work. True love is not romantic, it shows up to the awkward moments, forgives when it hurts, sees beauty in the angry, resistant one and gets up every morning to start all over again. True loving Christian community is harder yet to obtain, as church can be a place of judgment and strife to so many. Being family, being church leans loving in the messy, fraught, painful and awkward moments.
Jesus instructs, actually commands, the disciples to love one another. We know that they were a motley, competitive and diverse crew. They had lived and traveled together for many months and had probably gotten on each others nerves. He commanded them to love, understanding just how hard it would be for them. And we likewise are commanded to love, even though it is hard work. Love is not an intoxicating dream but rather a moment by moment pledge to love in the deepest darkness as well as the moments of grace.
Today I ask God to help me continue to love as commanded. May we all do the hard work of loving, so that the world might glimpse in our fractured loving a picture of the perfect love of God.