Today is the 12th Day of Christmas. And it is appropriate that what began as “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth” is now a story of the love of God spreading. The light has come into the world, and the command is to love as God loves. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” And what does that love look like? It is a love that means to “lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Now here’s the catch: “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” It turns out that love comes at a price. Not just for Jesus, but for us too. We are commanded not only to love our enemies, but also to live as Christ did, with self-sacrifice, service, and humility.
This is a tall order, and one that I find difficult on a daily basis. Love friends? Oh, that is easy. Love enemies and all the riff-raff in life? Uh oh. And live a life of service and giving, ready to lay down my life? Certainly not, Lord! Isn’t there another way?
It is easy to give presents to friends and family. But now we are being asked to give presents to those we don’t know, those who are our enemies, and those who are not planning to give any presents back.
Later in this John passage, Jesus starts speaking like a Presbyterian. “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” This is the beginning of understanding why Presbyterians baptize infants, and why when they are baptized as infants they are members of the church and the Lord’s Table is open to all. We are not in charge here!
And yet this is the call: to bear fruit. To love in order that love may spread. And just like fruit, if it takes to seed, love grows exponentially.