Growing up as a pastor’s kid, church business meetings weren’t the highlight of my life.

As a child, I mainly thought they were boring.  Those were the “good” meetings.  Then there were the other church business meetings.  These were when faces got red, people spoke very strongly, looked angry, and “put their foot down” over things as theologically significant as:

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  • An upright or baby grand piano,
  • Said piano on the left or right side of the stage
  • Choir robes or no choir robes
  • Suits or relaxed clothing

Heaven and Hell hung in the balance of those decisions…or at least, that was the message I saw demonstrated as a child.

I wonder what Jesus thought about all that.  Perhaps John 15 can help us.

To give you context, John 15 occurs as an extension of the conversation Jesus was having with His closest followers at the Last Supper (the final meal He would share with them before the crucifixion).  Jesus changed the subject and told them to remain in the Father’s love.  As He continues, Jesus states in John 15:12-15:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  

John 15:12-15
New International Version

Jesus is coming full circle with His teaching on love in this passage.  The Father loves the Son, the Son loves His followers, and His followers love Him by obeying Him.  When we love and obey the Son, we are loved by the Father.  When we get our “vertical love” right, then this naturally flows to building a bridge of love horizontally.

These horizontal bridges are where we can really see the proof of what is happening in our hearts.  When the love of Christ causes us to treat others differently, we provide testimony of the life-changing power of the Gospel.  Let me say that again—it’s imperative you don’t miss it: when the love of Jesus causes US to treat OTHERS differently, we provide testimony of the life-changing power of the Gospel.

Jesus says in verse 12, “Love each other as I have loved you.”  The point Jesus makes is not to exempt us from the call to love the Lord with our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Jesus is demonstrating how that love is applied in our lives.  It is an echo of what Jesus said in John 13:34-35: “Love each other.”

We cannot say we love God and not love others in the faith. 1 John 4:20–21 we read:

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.  

1 John 4:20-21
New International Version

Strong words from Scripture.  We are liars if we hate our brothers and sisters in the Lord yet say we love the Lord.  Ouch.  Stings…but it’s true.

This horizontal bridge of love is the demonstration of our love of the Son.  Show me someone who is mean-spirited, divisive, and hateful towards the body of Christ, and I will show you someone whose relationship with the Lord is severely lacking in vitality and growth.

As Jesus foreshadows the cross, He is also reminding us this love isn’t demonstrated on our terms with our abilities (verse 13).

Don’t get caught up asking, “Who are my friends and who are my enemies?”  That’s missing the context and asking the wrong question. Jesus is demonstrating the kind of love we are to have for each other.

It’s self-sacrificial love.  It’s putting “we before me.”  It’s about YOU and not ME.  It’s getting rid of our “I” disease and keeping others first in our lives.   

Why do local congregations try so hard in their music, language, messages, style, and ministries to reach “others”?  Because they are following the command of Jesus to sacrifice themselves to achieve the mission Jesus has given all who march under the banner of Christ: reach the lost, disciple the saved, and repeat.

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When Jesus tells us we can be friends of God (verse 14), He’s not saying our obedience MAKES us His friends; our obedience CHARACTERIZES us as His friends.

Are you a friend of the Lord?  Are you demonstrating His love to His people (and others)?  Are you building a bridge of love horizontally?

And take it easy in those church business meetings.  Children are learning about the faith from us.