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John 17:20-26                            

“Live in Love”

 I want to start with something funny. I found it on an internet site: Two men are standing on a bridge, one is about to jump off, and the other is trying to talk him out of it. The man asks the jumper, “So are you a Christian or a Hindu or a Jew, or what?” The jumper replies, “A Christian.” The man says, “Small world, me too! Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox?” The jumper answers, “Protestant.” The man says, “Me too! What denomination?” The jumper says, “Baptist.” The man says, Me too! Southern Baptist or Northern Baptist?” The jumper answers, “Northern Baptist.” The man says, “Me too! Northern Conservative Baptist, or Northern Liberal Baptist?” The jumper answers, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” The man says, “Me too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lake Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” The jumper answers, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lake Region.” The man says, “Me too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” The Jumper answers, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” The man then pushes the jumper off the bridge and screams, “Die Heretic!”

Mark Twain (11/30/1835-4/21/1910), who was a famous writer, said, “If you put a dog and a cat in a cage, they would unexpectedly get along; if you put a bird, a pig, and a goat in pen together, they might fight first, but eventually they would get along. However, if you put a Presbyterian, a Baptist, and a Methodist in a house, they would never do well together. How could Christians be worse than dogs, pigs, birds, or goats are? I know it is a parable story, but I felt shame as a Christian. The history of the church is a history of division. We face the church’s division in every era, and then we feel hurt. We then meet our denomination’s division, which is sad. The Apostle Paul says, “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Even though Christians are in different denominations, they believe in One God. If we cannot change the system, we should find the essential values of being a Christian and keep them. The essential value is that we should dwell in the love of God because God is love.

I want to talk about “Living in Love.” We believe in eternal life in God through Jesus Christ. What is the eternal life in God? The Disciple John says, “This is the eternal life that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). The eternal life is that we know about only one true God and Jesus Christ, who God sent to us. What we know about God and Jesus Christ is that God is love and God loves us so much. John says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). Therefore, if we love God and love others, we can dwell with God. John says, “If we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is made complete in us” (John 4:12).

Today’s scripture says that Jesus prayed for us more than 2000 years ago. It is like Jesus’ last wish for us before he died on the cross. Verses 20 and 21 say, “I ask not only on behalf of these but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Jesus prayed for his disciples (these) and us (those) much more than 2000 years ago so that we would be one in God.

We respect our loved one’s last wishes and try to honor them in our lifetime. If we love Jesus, we should respect his last wish and honor it in our lifetime as well. My mother’s last wish was that I would go to America to receive a higher education and be a pastor. It was very challenging for me, but I tried to honor that wish. That’s why I am here today. How about you? What were your parent’s or loved ones’ last wishes for you? Are you trying to honor those wishes during your lifetime?

What is the essence of Jesus’ prayer for us? Notice verse 24, “Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, maybe with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” What Jesus expects of those who believe in him is to “abide with him where he is.” Here, Jesus is, perhaps, not referring to a place like Galilee or Jerusalem, or a temple or a lake. Jesus talked about how you have in mind the living environment you are living in and how he lived.

What kind of living environment did he live in? There are several ways to answer this question. “He lived in poverty.” “He lived with those who suffered.” “He was with those who were cast away and turned away.” “He lived with the disciples who followed him.” “He lived by bringing in opposition, hatred, and persecution.” But all of these answers are about outward appearances. These are important too, but Jesus is talking about something more essential here. He lived first and foremost in the love of God the Father. The love of God the Father was the place he lived and his living environment.

Even in today’s scripture, Verse 26 also says, “I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” What is clearly seen here is Jesus’ confidence in God’s love. This conviction can be found very easily in the Gospel of John as well as in the four Gospels.

Jesus kept the voice of God that Jesus heard at his baptism during his public ministry all the time; “You are my beloved Son. I love you” (Mark 1:11). It is like this voice was always ringing in his heart. It was here that he had the power to overcome all temptation and go his way. The strength that allowed him to go to the deepest point of suffering as a human being came from the fact that “he lived by the love of God.”

These days, it is challenging to experience perfect love. Between a couple, love is no longer the essential value. Love has long lost its most important place, even between parents and children. In many cases, the modern home is no longer a loving community. There is competition instead of love, and there are selfish demands and conflicts. Even among friends, competition rather than love is taught as a virtue. We are well accustomed to competition, but we are unfamiliar and clumsy in loving. If you live in a home where true love is shared, if you work in a place of true friendship and fellowship, and if you have a friend who truly understands you and will always be with you, then you are very blessed. But, it has become very rare.

That is why it is more urgent to experience God’s love and to abide by it. God’s love is so perfect that no other love can compare, so once you experience that love, the lack of other love is not a big deal. We are no longer lonely when God’s love is with us because God always stays in our hearts. Hopefully, you can find God’s love even through sunshine on the green leaves in spring, the sound like the singing of birds, the hands sharing with beggars on the street, the joyful noise of children because God’s love is everywhere, and then let you dwell in his love. Rejoice in the life God gives you, and live in the love of God. Thanks be to God. Amen!