Believe and Love

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren.”
(1 John 3:14)

St. John had a true gift for words. Last Sunday, I talked about the way Jesus used the Name of God to establish his credibility. Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd, one who will lay down his life for the sheep. That is the ultimate act of love.Today we heard that Jesus told his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth.” He is talking about the Holy Spirit, and using some of the other names for him.

Our Heavenly Father gives us the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive. When Jesus speaks of the world, he means those who do not accept him, or believe his teaching.

St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians about this concept of the world;

“…you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Eph 2:2-3a).

The course of this world is that of the culture and society that oppose the Lord. This can consist of materialism, which means that you believe that having things for yourself is more important than others having what they need, like enough food to eat, and a roof over their heads.

It can mean attacking others viciously for any little thing that you disagree with. If you pay attention to social media these days, you will see this happening constantly. If you happen to have conservative Christian values you are attacked mercilessly, and called every kind of horrible name.

People that attack others in this way are not living in the love of God. They are simply trying to justify their bad behavior, and make themselves feel better. They are following the spirit of disobedience, and are children of wrath, says St. Paul.

The Spirit of Truth, or the Spirit of Christ, is alive in you who have been reborn by Baptism. He is the Counselor, meaning the one who gives you good advice. Some call it a conscience, but in reality, it is the Spirit of Christ who teaches us right from wrong.

And it is Jesus telling us, who are now his disciples, that if we love him, we will keep his commandments. So what commandments is he talking about?

We have the Ten Commandments given through Moses, and Jesus told us which were the greatest ones. Jesus said,

“The first commandment is this: Hear, O Israel:
The Lord your God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your
God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your
mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: Love
your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

But this is just the beginning. The Gospel according to Matthew has the best collection of the commandments of the four Gospels. Here are just a few:

“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:33).

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” (Matthew 7:1–2).

 “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12

“Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock.” Matthew 7:24

The best way to discover the commandments of Jesus then is to read your Bible. I urge you to read your Bible every day. The easiest way to do that is to say one of the daily offices, Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer, which are found in the Book of Common Prayer.

If you have a smart phone, you can install the app called, “The Daily Office from Mission St. Clare.” It has the Bible selections appointed for each day in an easy to read format. It will help you be inspired with the love of Jesus, and to learn his will for your life.

And so we who love him will follow those commandments.

And most importantly, we will love one another, because love is at the root of all commandments. St. John tells us this in the letter we heard today:

“And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.”

St. John gives us the Great Commandment very succinctly; Believe and love.

Then he says, “All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.”

So if we obey the commandments to love God and one another, the Spirit of Christ will live in us. And when the Spirit lives in us, he guides us into the truth. He helps us to make better decisions, and better choices. He inspires us to do the will of God, to care for the needs of others, and he guides us into a closer relationship with God.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love. Amen.

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