John, in our Gospel reading this week reminds us the kind of love Christians are called to embody (Jn 15:9-17). The summation of this chapter can be expressed in two statements: (1) Abide in me—experience that love (verses 1-8); and (2) Express that love (verses 9-17). To love is to live missionally, embodying the Good News of a God who is love. Jesus instructs us in the way of loving others with God’s love: “Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” John frequently uses the word “remain,” menein to remind us that God’s love is given unconditionally as a grace, but remaining faithful and fruitful in that missional love is indeed a missional matter of keeping certain commandments. God’s missional call to remain, to abide, and to continue in His missionary character calls for our missional living, endeavours, impacts, spirituality and obedience in launching into His mission.
It is difficult to effectively express the missional love without first experience the missional love (Jn 3:16). God’s missional love drove Him to sacrifice His only Son for our salvation. God’s missional love is to help us discover how we can join God on mission, sharing His love with everyone we meet, everywhere we go. The main problem in the church and world today is the expression of missional love without experience of missional love, hence, no joy in the family, church and the world in general. Jesus makes joy the outcome of the sacrificial life and love He lived, a life of fidelity to the Father and salvation to humankind. Lack of personal experience of missional love makes it challenging to see people who are selective or possessive in loving, a type of love that ends in pleasure, forgetting that pleasure lasts for a while and disappears.
To remain faithful and fruitful Christian and church is not just about keeping moral code or legalism. The missional matter is that, there is no fruitfulness without faithfulness. Abraham remained in God’s missional love for him to remain faithful to the point of sacrificing his only son before God intervened. Hannah remained in God’s love, keeping His commandment even as a faithful wife for her to remained faithful to the point of of being called a drunkard without yelling back. To remain in God’s love in other to remain faithful and fruitful is about humbly walking with the Lord, in the light of His Word. As a missional matter, to remain a faithful and a fruitful Christianity begins with loving God – “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.” To remain faithful and fruitful as missional matter reconnect salvation, that is, spirituality and mission, showing us how our spiritual lives, when lived properly, following missional and conditional progression: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.” Where you abide determines what you appreciate. Abiding in God’s love starts with a relationship, not position or title. Abiding in God’s love is loving God from our heart and soul and mind and strength.
Love brings about the keeping of God’s commandments just as love between husband and wife is about keeping the marriage vows. Keeping God’s commandment does not just happen without first loving God just as you don’t keep the marital vows with someone you don’t love or married to. Love comes first, experienced before expressions. Missional love is manifested through keeping the commandments. Let us again look at love in two ways. There is love we bear to God and others. This type of love is preoccupation with our performance with the interest in the result we achieve. This type of of love seeks the product of the union without a relationship, having the cart before the horse. A good example is Marta, Mary’s sister. There is also the missional love which God bears to us. This is the type of love we are called to remain in, continue in, and abide in. This type of love is preoccupation with the person of Jesus, resting in Him as the source of life and strength for mission. A good example is Mary. The lesson is that we cannot appropriate Jesus’ power if we don’t appreciate His person. Appreciation comes before appropriation but we are in a post-truth culture that like to appropriate God’s love without appreciating and confessing Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
One of the lessons Jesus taught His disciples 2021 years ago on how to be remain faithful and fruitful is very applicable to us today. We need to be fruitful so that our joy might be full (Jn 15:11). There is great joy in gaining the result God desires and there is great sorrow in missing the result God promises. Our appointment by God is a missional order to go and bear fruits (v.16). It is faithfulness that brings fruitfulness, a process to reclaim the whole of God’s kingdom for His glory and answers to our prayers. Lack of faithfulness yield barrenness, divisions and sorrow. Our obedience is the secret for a faithful and fruitful Christianity (v 10). One result of our obedience to our Lord’s command is joy. Obedience brings joy into our Christian, family and national experiences as it did for our Lord Jesus Christ: “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).