Are you surprised that we are in the same passage this week? I can't help it! There are so many wonderful lessons from Jesus in these verses!
As the Father loved Me, I also 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. These things I
have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy
may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as
I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down
one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I com-
mand you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know
what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that
I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose
Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit,
and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My
name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one
We have the distinct privilege of living in a rural area; when our house was first built, over twenty-five years ago, we could not see any lights or other signs of human life from our porches or deck! Our land was farmland many years ago, but the probable location of a house can still be seen, and there is a huge oak tree there. The tree is easily over one hundred years old; it is massive, and when our kiddos were growing up we called it the "initial tree."
Carved into its bark are initials of enterprising individuals who wanted to mark the tree for posterity, to leave something behind when they were gone. Some are sets of initials -- young lovers carved their initials to say, "I love you" in what they felt would be a lasting tribute to their affection. Others who have looked on the tree many years later have seen that "I love you" there.
The experts tell us that emotionally healthy people form meaningful ties with other human beings. They don't just nod in the hallway; they don't just smile as they pass, pulling in the driveway; they share personal things. They talk about their likes and dislikes, and they share their joys and fears. They extend themselves freely to others, and help others -- and they know how to graciously accept assistance when they find themselves "in over their heads." And when they have important decisions to make, they ask for (and receive) insights and support from their friends.
But studies show a disturbing trend in our world. There is evidence that Americans have a third fewer close friends that just about twenty years ago. And more disturbing, the data indicates that the number of people who have no one to count as a close personal friend has doubled. It's the same for males and females, for young and old, all races, all educational levels. And even in our families, the comfort levels have diminished significantly. All of this points to people who are feeling lonelier and more isolated than ever.
They need an "I love you" from somewhere, from someone.
We'll study this more, this week. I hope you will join us!