O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Appointed to Bear Fruit
Appointed to Bear Fruit
Based on John 15:9-17
Preached on May 6, 2018
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Fellow baptized saints, we have received so much from the Lord Jesus. The enormity of His love for us is mind-boggling. He came down from heaven. Took on our flesh. Took our place. Shed His blood and died for us sinners – His enemies. Yes, that’s right, for His ungodly enemies. Laid down His life on the cross for us. Took all our sins and answered for them in His body. He chose us to be His own. He calls us His friends. Refuses to treat us as His enemies. Gave us His Spirit so that we trust in Him and His gifts. So immense is His love for us. Even though we deserve none of it. Absolutely none of it! But He gives it.
So there’s a question: What does Jesus - expect in response from us - who believe in Him? Or does He expect anything at all? Does He? He sure does. But I’d better let Jesus Himself say it. Cuz if I say it - you may just blow me off. And that’s all right. Blow me off all you want. But it’s quite another thing to blow off the Lord Jesus who chose you and appointed you to bear fruit.
Oops! I leaked it out. Did you catch it? “Appointed you to bear fruit.” Those are the Lord’s words, not mine. His idea. His will. Not mine.
Here’s what He says to you – chosen one: “This is my commandment: that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” “This I command you: that you love one another.”
Commandment. That’s pretty serious when Jesus says: “my commandment,” isn’ it? Not optional. It’s what He expects from us. Love for one another. That’s the fruit of faith in Jesus.
Love one another. The person next to you in the pew. The people all gathered here in this church. The people in your family. The people in your community. The nation. The world. After all, Jesus died for them too. Jesus loves them just as much as He loves you.
And that’s where it’s really dicey isn’t it? Because there are people in your life you don’t care for. And there are people who don’t care for you. And then the love grows cold. And as love cools – hate heats up. Then the devil steps in to stoke the hate flames so that relationships are destroyed.
“He hit me - so I had to hit him back! She called me the “B” word - so I gave it back to her in spades! He doesn’t like me - so I don’t like him either. She said so many venomous things about me so I had to give it right back behind her back. He dropped the “F” bomb right in my face so I bombed it right back at him to show him.” Tit for tat. Quid pro quo. Dog eat dog. The way of the world. No wonder it’s all such a mess.
But not so among you who believe in Jesus. Who bear His holy Name. Who have been given to eat and drink His most holy body and blood given into death for your salvation. Who are forgiven everything for His sake. To you (not to these walls or the pews) Jesus says: “This I command you: that you love one another.”
Jesus doesn’t need your love. Your neighbor does. Your neighbor needs your help. Desperately! Your children. Your grandchildren. Your fellow church members. Your classmates. Your fellow citizens. Open your eyes. Look around this room and ask yourself: How is God going to use me?
You’re not allowed to check out. Jesus expects you to live not for yourselves, but for others.
Perhaps a helpful example is in order: Why do most people work? So they can play on the weekend. Play in retirement. That’s why people play at their work and work at their play. That’s right: they play at their work and work at their play. That too is the way of the world. It’s all about the self. Fulfillment of self. Pleasuring one’s self. Self this. Self that. A life turned in on itself.
But that’s the life of a slave. A prison. Self becomes an idol that never gives you any rest. That needs more and more. We’re looking for lasting joy, but we’ll never find it in ourselves.
Here it is: The opposite of the worship of the self is the freedom that faith in Jesus gives. Instead of being turned inward - faith looks out – to Christ for salvation, and to neighbour for a place to put all that acting love. Faith gives birth to new life – the life of sacrificial love for the people God gives you. A life lived outside yourself. The life of love for one another.
This new life is where true joy is found. Joy that is complete. Laying down your life in self-sacrificial service for your neighbor. Meeting their needs not yours. Providing for what they need.
Beloved, you are Christ’s friends. His “died for forgiven.” friends.
He has good use for you in this world. Listen again to what it is: “This is my commandment: that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” “This I command you: that you love one another.” In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr