Going Deeper 05.07.2021

‚ÄčThe Gospel reading for the sixth Sunday of Easter... John 15:9-17

"As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another."

If we were to do a bit of a self-assessment in terms of our fruit-bearing, where would we stand?  Are the fruits of the Spirit-- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control-- being born in and through our lives?  Are good works done in love a big part of our earthly journey at this point?  Are we living more and more fully in the way of Jesus?  It doesn't matter who we are, but the truth is that none of us are bearing as much fruit as we could be.  There will always be room for growth.

This text not only echoes our calling to "go and bear fruit, fruit that will last," it also helps us understand what it takes to bear more fruit.  We might think it is all about commitment and self-discipline... and those types of things are often in play.  But in this beautiful chapter of John's Gospel (we heard the first part last week), Jesus reveals what it at the heart of it all: "abide in my love."  In the previous verses Jesus speaks of Himself as being the vine and we as the branches.  We can't simply 'push out' good fruit.  We must be connected to the vine.

What is most important above all is to tend to the relationship we have with Jesus.  When we seek Him, His Holy Spirit will draw us into a deeper and stronger connection with Jesus.  This may not look the same with each of us as God's children, but the common elements of going deeper include things like prayer, worship, service, and studying and contemplating the written word... through which we receive the Living Word, Jesus.  

All of this adds us to what some have called practicing the presence.  Jesus is with us always, just as He promised.  Jesus desires-- but will never force or coerce-- an ever-growing relationship with us, and the Holy Spirit stands ready to assist.  Know that you are a beloved child of God, and that Jesus is always present.  Abide in His love, and the fruit will grow day by day.  And in bearing love-inspired fruit, your joy will be complete!

With You in His Love,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"