Over these last two weeks we have exploring the true meaning of love from the perspective of John’s first letter. You may remember that the letters of John were written by some of the gospel author’s students, intended to be a commentary on the gospel for a new generation. And if John had one theme upon which he waxed poetic, love was it.

This weekend’s lectionary text includes one of those famous verses that we often recite: 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 (John 15:12-13). Though our guest preacher will be exploring a different section of John with you, it seemed important to pause and look at just one more dimension of love from John’s perspective.

Remember that not only is God’s love intended to be an action verb when we put it out into the world, but this author suggests that the main way we grow our relationship with God is by loving others with this same self-giving, self-risking love. Which only adds more emphasis to Jesus’s own statement from the gospel – there is nothing more central to being a follower of Christ than love. Period.

This means that everything we do, say, think, everything about us should be checked through the lens of God’s self-sacrificial love. All of it. Even our beliefs. Even the scriptures. Especially how we interact with others.

When we lose that central focus on God’s love, on how we are meant to relate to every single other human around us, then we have lost the lion’s share of our relationship with God, too. Though God will always seek after us, we will never be able to grow into who God intends us to be until we start by mending our relationships here on earth.

So, at the end of the day, the answer is quite easy: love first. Love radically. Love always.

Blessings, Pastor Janie

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