Leonard Sweet, a United Methodist Minister views this passage and others like it, which deal with the idea of “Love” in this way…”Love is less what you feel than what you do.” I think we can embrace this notion. Hearing someone tells us we are important and loved is certainly good, but having the person shows us in tangible ways how much we are loved, well that means the world to us.
Christ, throughout these passages leading him ever closer to the cross talks definitively about this later understanding of “love.” It isn’t just about words; it’s really all about how our expressions of love are lived out; how we act on what we say we feel. So, I thought this morning, we could sing our way to a better understanding of what Christ is talking about. So many of our hymns are examples of what Christ was talking about; they can help us to understand Christ’s words with a renewed sense and desire to put some substance and action behind our expressions of Christian love.
Christ does more than just hint of his impending death; he prepares the Disciples to accept his death on the cross and assures them they will not be left to fend for themselves. God does provide. This time, that provision will come in the form of the Holy Spirit who will be companion, mentor, advocate and teacher to those left behind to carry on the work Christ had begun. The cross and Christ’s willingness to accept it puts substance behind his expressions of love for the world. Christ will and does act on that love. He chooses to lay his life down, to let it go, to give it up because he loves us. Let’s turn to #295 “In the Cross of Christ I Glory” and sing verses. 1,3, & 4.
The cross became the vehicle through which Christ and ultimately we, Christ’s followers are glorified. It’s God’s gift to us and it represents God’s enduring love for us.
John’s passage captures the three persons of God – God the Father, Christ the Son of God, and God’s Holy Spirit. This divine Trinity captures for us an essence of who God is to us, what God has done for us and the everlasting love and nurture God, in this relationship God has for us. God in all three persons nurtures and loves us. Ultimately, the gift is love. Christ doesn’t want to leave his Disciples without that wonderful knowledge – we are loved and in that divine love, we find our peace. Let’s turn to # 408 “The Gift of Love” and sing verses 1 & 3.
True love is not what we feel buy how we act on what we have received through God’s gift of love. By the ways we act in love others will know we indeed, are Christians, followers of Christ. One of the best-known hymns to speak this truth is #581 “Lord, Whose Love through Humble Service”. Let’s turn to this hymn and sing verses 1 & 4. But, whom do we serve? Christ has again given us our example and our model for service. Throughout Christ’s life on earth, he reached out to many, even those society tended to shun. Christ loved even the least and invited us to follow his example – to welcome the homeless, the helpless, the poor, the hungry, those who are ill, those who grieve loss and are frightened. He invited us to shoulder a fair share of the burdens of life and to embrace, in love, both those who are like us and those we deem as very unlike us. In this way, we would live out Christ’s life amidst those Christ called blessed and find blessing in the act of self-giving.
There are such valuable lessons received by us when we explore the ways Christ has in his life, through his death and by his resurrection served the world. Those lessons teach us, by example, how we might love Christ, serve God, and be companioned daily in our lives by the Spirit of God. Our scriptures and our hymns reflect what we have learned and what we believe. Even in our world of pain and loss, even when horrific events happen, which have us shaking our heads in dismay at human evil, even in all we hear about and know about regarding the capability of some to hurt many, even then we find our peace in Christ Jesus. We end with the lovely hymn # 2218 “You are Mine” all verses.
 Leonard Sweet, Homiletics, April-June 1995, 27.