1 John 4:7-21
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
Jesus said to his disciples, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."
We Are Connected
Jesus is big on metaphors. I Googled the definition of metaphor and this is what came up. "A metaphor is a figure of speech that identifies something as being the same as some unrelated thing for rhetorical effect thus highlighting the similarities between the two." The problem is that sometimes I feel like I need a definition of the definition. Maybe it is best to use an example. “I am the good shepherd” “I was lost in a sea of nameless faces” “The detective listened to her tale with a wooden face” “The preacher gave a fire and brimstone sermon” “Girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Boys are made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails”
The metaphor in today's gospel reading equates God the Father as the gardener, Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. The branches produce the fruit. This is a colorful way of saying we are all connected but connected isn't enough. The quality of the fruit depends on the strength of the vine and Jesus sees himself as having given us all the nourishment we need. We need to take that nourishment and use it to become strong and bear much fruit.
At bible study Tuesday the question was asked how would you define the word abide. To me it means “to live in”. Jesus said if you live in me then I live in you.
So, how do we live in Jesus. The outward signs of visiting the sick and feeding the hungry are a good start but it is not complete. As an example, If it is my day as a clergy person to do hospital visitation and I go in with the thought of getting it over with the fruit of the visit will be tainted but if I go into the visit out of an expression of my love everything changes.
What did the Beatles say? All you need is love da ta da ta da There is nothing you can do that can't be done. There is nothing you can save that can't be saved. All you need is love.
You get the picture. It seems to me that we humans just want to make things difficult when all you need is love. Visit the sick with love. Feed the hungry with love. You will bear very tasty fruit and Jesus the Christ will abide in you and you will abide in him.