May 28, 2021

John 15:16-17
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

As we close out this passage from John 15, a couple of things stand out. The first is this: if you begin reading at verse 9, it’s surprising how many times Jesus returns to the concept of love. He’ll say a couple of sentences about keeping his commands, and then remind us that his primary command is to love one another. He draws the distinction between servants and friends, and reflects on bearing fruit and prayer. But he wraps up those various thoughts with the reminder: Love one another. Love is like the chorus of a song Jesus keeps returning to.

The second thing that stands out in these verses are the two very clear reasons Jesus has chosen and appointed us. First, he appointed us so we can bear fruit that will last. Second, he appointed us so that whatever we ask in his name the Father will give us. If we take a look at those two extraordinary benefits of being chosen, it’s easy to see why Jesus keeps coming back to loving one another like a broken record.

We’ve been told our efforts will have long lasting effects (fruit) in our lives and in the lives around us. And we’ve been told that the Father will answer our prayers. You are probably far more righteous than I am, but for me, it doesn’t take long before I start seeing those two benefits through a lens of selfishness. I read Jesus’s words with the expectation that if I want something and ask for it, God will give it to me. And I’ll get to keep it as long as I want. I’d like job security and a great group of friends. I’d like enough money to take a vacation and drive a decent car. I’d like the admiration of my co-workers and the respect of my boss. I’d like a husband or wife and a 3 bedroom house. And then, just as my mind is really starting to imagine all the things I want, the voice of Jesus rings through.

This is my command: Love each other.

In other words, the fruit we’ve been chosen to bear and the prayers the Father will answer will all point towards a singular end: loving each other as Christ loved us. If your prayers are not being answered, consider this verse from James 4.

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Ouch. Do your prayers have, at their heart, the selflessness and love Jesus is talking about in John 15? Are you trying to build a legacy of friendship and righteousness like Jesus did? Today, listen to your prayers as you pray them. Take note of the prayers that drift off of the foundation of love, and imagine Jesus calling you back. If you need help getting started, try praying the Lord’s Prayer, and hear each phrase through the lens of loving others.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
   on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
   as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
   but deliver us from the evil one.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

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