Why is it that some of the simplest things in life are the most difficult to accomplish? For example, the formula to lose weight is simple: Eat healthy and exercise. But as you take a stroll through suburban America, you quickly realize that this is easier said than done. Or what about this one? Living debt-free. Every sane person wants to. Simple right? Don’t spend more money than you have. Yet, our current financial situation has exposed our collective love of money and our greed-motivated quest for more.
The Bible is full of these too. As I was reading Scripture this morning, one of these simple/difficult formulas popped out at me. It’s found in the 15th chapter of John’s Gospel. And it’s one of Jesus’ sayings. Big surprise. Jesus said a lot that was difficult. Sometimes difficult to understand, but most of the time just difficult to put into practice the way that we ought. And apart from the Spirit’s power in our lives … impossible.
Anyway, He says one of the simplest statements recorded in Scripture. One that most kindergartners memorize in Sunday School. I know because Rainy just memorized it a few months ago. Here it is:
“This I command you, that you love one another.” (John 15:17)
That’s it. Simple. Yet incredibly hard to live out.
And why is that? Why do we find it so difficult to love people? Isn’t it because, by our very nature, we are bent toward sin and self-centeredness. We are prone to love only ourselves. And since every sin, at its core, is rooted in the sin of pride, the lack of love for one another fails to be the exception. It’s pride. In truth, we don’t love others, because we love ourselves too much.
As I considered my own lack of love for people, I glanced back at the previous sixteen verses and came to another realization. Since this whole pericope hinges on the concept of remaining in Christ, it dawned on me that love for others is contingent upon our remaining in Him.
He says in verse 5: “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
Epiphany: Could it be that I don’t love others the way I ought because I don’t love Jesus the way I ought? Could it be because I’m not consistently remaining in Him? Could there be a correlation between lack of fellowship with Christ and lack of love for people? And could the reverse also be true? When I am in fellowship with Christ, love for people comes as an overflow?
Obviously the questions here are rhetorical, but I think they demand our attention. They demand that we evaluate our love for people and our love for Christ. And maybe, as we do that it will become an indicator and a barometer to help us gauge our relationship with Christ.
Simple? Yes. Easy? No way!