#902. This is my command (20/9/23)
This week we are considering what Jesus’ teaching on remaining in the vine from John 15 means for us together.
‘My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no-one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ (John 15:12-13)
Lesson: The fruit of remaining in the vine is a church community that is shaped by the cross.
You can listen to this devotional at:
John 15:1-18, that we have been looking at during this vision series, teaches us that obeying Jesus' commands is very important. Sometimes (and it's the dominating 'spirit' of our age), Christians can avoid talking about our responsibilities while talking and singing constantly about our rights! The result is that we often embrace the idea of God loving us while not being as enthusiastic about the idea of loving others as we have been loved.
However, as Jesus makes clear, if we don't love as we've been loved, we may well be branches that are 'thrown into the fire' because the fruit of being in the vine—in Christ—will always be seen in how we love God and others!
To love the church is not a good idea. It’s not my idea. It’s Jesus’ 'command'! It’s not optional. Jesus defines what this love will look like: 'as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.' The cross of Christ is to shape how we love each other. To love like Christ means (in part):
i. To leave glory (Jesus left heaven and, likewise, we are to be prepared to go to difficult places for others).
ii. To love like Christ means to become a servant (Jesus served the world He created, so how can we serve?)
iii. To be willing to be misunderstood (Jesus was hated and misunderstood for telling the truth, and we are to be willing to share our faith at the risk of being maligned?).
iv. To suffer for and at the hands of those He was serving (Jesus loved His enemies, so how can we love and serve those who may not deserve our kindness?).
v. To sacrifice self for the good of others (Jesus’ difficult life and terrible death were for the salvation of sinners, and He continues to seek the lost, and our lives are to model this).
If this command to love as Jesus loves—cross-shaped love—overwhelms you, that’s good because humility is required. Those who are humbled and feel their weakness are the kinds of people who will remain in the vine. We are not prayer-less because we are busy; we are Prayer-less because we are proud and strong!
The good news is that we are to feel overwhelmed by Jesus' command and so, in our bankruptcy, turn to Him in prayer for help, and He will help us. In fact, in the previous chapter, Jesus promises the help of the Holy Spirit for those who truly want to obey His command to love:
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever’ (John 14:15-16)
The fruit of remaining in the vine is a church community that is shaped by the cross. Just imagine the impact we would have if we, all of us, were like Jesus in His love! The good news is that if we remain in the vine, we will become increasingly like this.
Specifically, how is your imitation of the cross affecting your relationship with your Community Group?
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
As this may well be your first group meeting in a while, perhaps you’d like to catch up on highs and lows from the summer period.
3. STUDY AND PRAY TOGETHER
Please read John 15:1-17
This week, we continue with our vision series that is inspired by John's teaching on Jesus being the vine.
Let’s begin by reminding ourselves of our vision and goals as a church:
At CCP, our vision is: 'Bringing people to Jesus: myself, one another, and our community.'
We are seeking to build a church in which every member knows the importance of, and has the skills to come to Jesus each day so as to live as fully devoted followers of Jesus every day.
2. One another
We have an Acts 2 vision of the church where we see their devotion to meeting together. Together, we encourage each other to come to Jesus and put Him at the centre of our lives.
3. My Community
We are a church that has deep compassion for our community and we know that God wants to work through us to bring people to Him. We understand or identity as 'salt and light' in our communities doing good works and sharing the gospel thoughtfully. We love to ‘serve, invest and invite’ in our community - invest in friendships and invite them into our lives, church community and closer to Jesus, particularly through Alpha.
Our 4 simple goals
To help with this, we have 4 very simple but, I believe, powerful goals that encourage every member to work on:
Goals to help me to bring ‘myself’ to Jesus:
1. We 'come to Jesus daily' by setting aside quality time each day in prayer and worship out of the Bible and asking to be filled with the Holy Spirit (20 minutes, using the ‘come to Jesus daily’ blog is a good start)
2. The 'icebreaker' used in our CG meetings is, normally, 'How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?'
Goal to help bring ‘one another’ to Jesus:
3. We are devoted to building an amazing Community Group (Meeting weekly is a good start).
Goals to help us to bring ‘our community’ to Jesus:
4. We aim to share, pray and plan about how we are ‘serving, investing and inviting’ into our community every time we meet in our Community Groups. Additionally, we pray and plan specifically during our monthly ‘SIV Week’ (Serve/Invest/Invite).
1. Do you have any questions about our vision and goals?
2. Reflecting upon our reading from John 17, What are the ways that one can ‘remain in the vine’ personally?
3. What is the link between loving one another in the church and remaining in the vine?
4. SIV - Why will we become effective at reaching our community outside of the church if we remain in the vine?
5. SIV - How could you better Serve, Invest and inVite with the people and in the places that God has put you into?