In the passage for this Sunday from John, the disciples are scared. They are scared because Jesus has told them that he will soon leave them, that soon he will no longer be among them to lead them, inspire them, guide them, teach them. And the disciples are wondering, what they are going to do? They have given up three years of their lives to follow Jesus, they love Jesus, and they know that EVERYTHING is going to change when he is gone.
Jesus is trying to allay their fears, so he tells the disciples, just because I am not here in person doesn’t mean that I won’t be with you. It doesn’t mean that anything will change. Your goals for life and discipleship should be absolutely the same. Just because you can’t reach out and touch me doesn’t mean that you can’t love me. Even when I am not with you, continue to love me! Love me, show your love for me by following my commandments. Love me by preaching what I have preached. Love me by living as I have lived. You will never be orphans. You are children of God! You will never be alone, the Holy Spirit will always be with you. Keep doing what God wants you to do.
My brother is not one known to hearken too many church doors, aside from when a family wedding or funeral dictates he show up. But that having been said, my brother is Very good at finding good church or religious jokes for me. About once a week I get something good in e-mail that makes me laugh at myself or the church. A sense of humor is a very good thing.
And so a few months ago I got an e-mail with a very simple joke of the bumper-sticker variety included.
If you love Jesus, tithe. Anyone can honk.
It’s a good joke because it is absolutely true. And it is the crux of what Jesus is saying here is if you love me, obey. Anyone can honk. If you love me, if you get what I am talking about, do something. Believe. Obey.
I don’t use that “O” word lightly. It is a word heavy with all kinds of baggage. But it is , with God, a Good word. We are free to obey.
Obey is another of those unpopular concepts because it has been used to belittle and limit others. Jesus is talking about obey in the sense of a sonnet. A sonnet with its fourteen lines of iambic pentameter and rhyme scheme has rules. Within these rules is the greatest freedom imaginable to create image and emotion that can only be created when you commit to the rules. That’s the kind of obey Jesus is talking about here.
What does it mean to obey through living out the love of God?
Is it an action that stands on its own, or does it come from the love of God that we accept?
How do we keep this passage (do we keep this passage) from advising busy people that they need to do more?
Those are some of my thoughts… How about yours?