John 15:9-10

[see also the DoNotDepart page about these verses]

9. As the father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

Jesus already has been loving us and is loving us still. The challenge is not to earn love or to be loved, but to “abide” in that love. The love is there for us to draw on.

I have started saying that phrase to myself — “Abide in my love” — when I feel myself tempted to turn to sin. I need something ‘more attractive’ than the sin, and the idea of abiding in the love of Jesus is very attractive. The image has life and energy and even sensuality in a way that the image of ‘residing in the presence of God’ doesn’t.

10. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, as I have kept my father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love

I interpret this not as a reward for a good deed (“If you do this, I’ll give you a sweetie”), but as a kind of paraphrase or equality (I wonder if the Greek construction is a kind of subjunctive). Something like, keeping the commandments is a way of abiding in Jesus’ love.

For me, what is normative is Jesus’ life: his life is the “law” we must follow. So in a way I think of an implicit commandment from Jesus, “be like me”. The corny Christian slogan “What Would Jesus Do?” is actually fairly accurate.

Then there are Jesus’ two explicit commandments: love God, and love each other

Everything else is informative, not normative. So even the Gospels, treasure that they are, are only informative, in that they are our best documentary evidence for his life. I should explore more along these lines. I am very interested in the early church, before the New Testament was put together. That might be my next reading.

as I have kept my father’s commandments, and abide in his love

Jesus is limited just like we are. Jesus is an aspect of God, not the whole of God. I think of Jesus as human perfection.

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