Remain in My Love: The Gospel of the Great 50 Days

As a cultural holiday this weekend we will celebrate Mother's Day - in essence it is a time to intentionally honor and celebrate all of the women in our lives who demonstrate love in such regular and powerful ways. In the Christian year, this weekend marks the Sixth Sunday of Easter. It's interesting that both culturally and liturgically, we recognize the power of "marking time."

Recognizing the Christian year is a way to not only intentionally remember and celebrate the life of Christ, but a way to actually enter into that life and be transformed by the power of the Word and Spirit. 

The Gospel reading for this week comes from John 15:9-17. The narrative is Jesus' own articulation of what it means "to love one another." Such a familiar sentiment to hear... such a hard exhortation to actually live out.

JOHN 15:9-17

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.


"Remain in my love."

It is so hard to remain in Christ's love day to day, throughout the day. Sometimes I can so easily get caught up in "self." I have a prayer that I say often in my mind or out loud:

"God, I offer myself to Thee; to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve of the bondage of self that I may better do Thy will."

Just saying the line... "Relieve me of the bondage of self" helps me return to and remain in the love and grace of Christ. We have so many lesser things and distractions that pull us away from our union and relationship with Jesus. Remaining in his love is not a "Hallmark card" kind of sentiment, it is more like a battle cry against the war that is being waged against our hearts on a daily basis.

"I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy."

I have been writing these posts on Friday which is my day off. One of the first things I do on these mornings is take a run along the beach. It is a powerful way for me to decompress and talk with God. This morning I actually began to pray against the enemy, feeling that he was trying to steal my joy with negative thoughts and discouragement. I literally prayed out loud while running, "I'm not going to let you steal my joy. Let the peace of God reign in my heart."

Like remaining in Christ's love, being filled with his joy is a daily battle. Our enemy is assaulting us with messages that are meant to rob us of the peace that comes from letting Christ fill us and reign in us, moment by moment. 

"You didn't choose me. I chose you."

Powerful words. Controversial words. There is certainly a mysterious interplay between divine sovereignty and human responsibility, but at the end of the day I rest in the fact that God is the great initiator. He pursues wild and rebellious hearts and calls us to himself. We may never fully understand the ways in which the Holy Spirit moves and operates in our lives. Personally, I find great strength in the reality that God does for me what I could never do for myself.

"Love each other in the same way I have loved you."

Getting out of self and being of love and service to others is such a paradoxical way of living. I have found this at work in my own life: when I am more concerned for and actively loving on others, I find myself full of joy. When I am caught up in the spiral of self, I am miserable. Interestingly, Jesus summed up all of the Law and Prophets in two commandments:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind... and love your neighbor as yourself.

(Matthew 22:37-40)

These two commandments are so central and important that the entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on them! May the grace of Christ penetrate our hearts so deeply that more and more we learn the profound joy of loving others.


Loving God,
I pray that, today, I would know what it means
to remain in your love.
I pray against the assaults of a real enemy
who would seek to kill and destroy;
who would seek to rob me of the peace and joy that is found
in the sustaining and ever-present love of Jesus.

Today, I pray against the Father of lies
and turn toward the advocacy of Christ.
I know He is for me.
I know He loves me.
I know He is mine.

Jesus, direct my thoughts and actions toward others
in self-sacrificing love.
May the joy of my heart come from the surprising,
Grace-filled posture of loving others as you have loved me.


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