WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM? – A STUDY OF THE LIFE OF JESUS (44)

LOVING GOD AND ONE ANOTHER, YET HOSTILITY WITH THE "WORLD" – JOHN 15:
9 -25

Abiding is the key to fruit bearing (v.5); obedience (spiritual disciplines)
is the key to abiding (v.10); love is the key to obedience (v.10) and knowing
God (v.15) is the key to loving Him. "May I know you more clearly, love
you more dearly and follow you more nearly." (St. Richard of Chicester)
The more we know Him, the more we will love, trust and obey Him.

Our love for Him is always a response to His great love for us. Jesus loves
us even as the Father loves Him (v.9) and our love for Him is seen in the way
we love others. "We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I
love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not
love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And
he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother."
(1 John 4:19-21; Also see the Great Commandment – Matt. 22:37-39)

(V. 12, 17) How can the Lord command us to love a person? Because Christian
love (agape) isn’t a feeling, it is an act of the will, a choice to seek a person’s
highest good. Sometimes this may mean speaking the truth (even painful truth)
in love (Eph. 4:15). Sometimes it can mean costly forgiveness. Love others for
God’s sake and purposes, not yours and not even for what others think is their
best if it is not God’s best. (Matt. 16:22-23)

Jesus not only calls us to love as He loved us, He demonstrated what that love
looks like – by laying down His life for us, His friends.(v. 13) We must realize
that before Jesus died on the cross we were all objects of God’s wrath – His
enemies. (Rom. 5:10; Eph. 2:1-3) Jesus, as an act of His will (Matt. 26:39),
wanting our highest good, loved His enemies (you and me) by going to the cross
and making us His friends. (v.15) What a Friend we have in Jesus, One who sticks
closer than a brother. (Prov. 18:24)

Yet friendship with God involves obedience (v.14). Abraham was called a friend
of God (James 2:23) but he obeyed to the point of willingness to offer up his
only son as a sacrifice to the God who called him His friend. Even though we
are God’s sons and even His bride we will always be His servant. (See James
1:1) His immanence never replaces His transcendence.

Yet friendship with the "world" is hatred toward God and makes us
an enemy of God. Wow!!! (James 4:4-5) ("World" means the cosmos, people,
or as in this case, a society opposed to God.) God is a Jealous Lover and when
we go after the world He gets upset. The One who created us and bought us back
with His own blood has every right to be jealous and possessive. (Rom. 12:2;
1 John 2:15-17)

Why does the world hate us? Because we refuse to be "conformed to this
world" (Rom 12:2), to fit in, to not rock the boat; because we belong to
the Lord and the world hated Jesus and His light. "This is the verdict:
Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because
their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not
come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." (John 3:19-20)
Remember the strong reaction from the world (Hollywood, etc.) to Mel Gibson’s
The Passion of the Christ. This film made all who saw it or even heard about
it have to wrestle with the question, Why did Jesus have to suffer the cross?
No one likes to admit they are sinners who need a Savior – especially a suffering
and bloody Savior.

Vv. 22-25 – Jesus’ words and His works made man even more accountable to God;
the greater the revelation the greater the accountability. (Luke 12:48) And
Jesus was/is the revelation of God – God incarnate. Yet they heard His
words of power and truth and saw supernatural miracles with their own eyes and
refused to believe in Him. "But do not think I will accuse you before the
Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set (i.e,. salvation
by keeping the Law
). If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for
he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going
to believe what I say?
"Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous
signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him." (John 5:45-47;
12:37)

And as we speak God’s truth (be prophetic) we, like the prophets and The Prophet
(Jesus), will be hated and even persecuted by unrepentant unbelievers (Matt.
5:10-12). Yet speaking God’s Word can also bring people to repentance (1 Cor.
14:24-25).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Love is not (just) a feeling it’s an act of your will. Do you agree? How did
Jesus demonstrate His love for us? How can we demonstrate our
love for our spouse a friend, an enemy? Hint: Do you know your spouse’s "love
language"? If not, ask them. (The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
list quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, physical touch.)
Demonstrate love today!

Discuss what you think "friendship with the world" actually means.
Note the three definitions of "world" in the 6th paragraph above.
John tells us that the things of this world will pass away (are temporal) but
doing the will of God is eternal. (1 John 2:15-17)

How can we be in the world but not of the world? (See John 17:14-16) How can
we love the sinner but hate the sin? (Rom 12:2; Phil. 2:14-16)

In America we have a Bible in most every home and a church on most every corner.
We can read and hear about Jesus’ word and works most any time and place we
desire. The greater the revelation the greater the accountability. (Luke 12:48)
How accountable are we as Americans? How accountable are you and I as Americans?

We are called to be tolerant (or grace-filled) in relationships (Col 4:6) but
not tolerant with untruth and lies that ignore or contradict God’s truth. (Pro-choice
– homosexual marriages, false religions -there are many roads to heaven, etc.)
We are called to know and speak God’s truth (be prophetic) even when and where
it is unpopular. How can we do this in our jobs, social gatherings, even in
our own homes?

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