It started out simple enough…. “Love one another as I have loved you.” That’s the message repeated over and over again. This week’s lectionary had us reading John 15:9 – 17, (I really like Peterson’s “The Message” for this, so here you go):
“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
“But remember the root command: Love one another.”
And this week, the Council of Bishops for the United Methodist Church must have been reading this too. They chose “Love one another” over all the rules and biases that are slowly eating away at the love that should be the center of the church.
Read Bishop Devadhar’s letter to the New England Conference if all this is confusing to you. You can find it here.
For me, living the command, love one another, is never that simple, never that easy. The other day I was driving along, minding my own business when a guy in a pickup truck (who had been on my tail for the last couple of miles because 7 miles over the speed limit was not fast enough) decided to cut around me, slam his truck in front of me and then ‘salute’ me with a single digit. I yelled out ‘Jesus!’ but it wasn’t a prayer….and that’s the point of this passage in John. It is hard to love everyone, it is hard work. Look at what it cost Him!
This week the Council of Bishops put love above rules. This week the Council of Bishops dared to love instead of judge. This week, my church said, “enough.”