This Sunday is the last Sunday in the season of Easter, and so will be the last in our worship series “Love So Amazing.” I cannot begin to share with you how reading 1st John all during this season has impacted me.
The punctuation mark on this season is taken from John 15:12 – “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Here the theological parallels between the Gospel According to John and the book of First John are very apparent. Quite simply, followers of Christ Jesus are commanded by our Lord to love one another.
Not only love one another, but love one another as Jesus loved us. This seems like an impossible task. How can we possibly love with the kind of selflessness and grace that Jesus offered?
However, the author of First John tells us that “…his commandments are not burdensome” (5:3). And so it seems that this apparently impossible task is not only possible, but will not even be a burden to undertake. It makes me think of Matthew 11:30, where Jesus promises, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Maybe it’s like riding a bike. (Bear with me here.) Learning how to ride a bike is really hard! It is scary to think about losing your balance and tumbling to the pavement. Sometimes the fear of failing even prevents us from making the attempt.
But when we do, and begin to get the hang of it, riding a bike is exhilarating! It sets us free! We roll along with ease, wind in our face, wondering what we ever could have been scared of. And once we learn how, we never forget. It’s like … well … actually it’s like riding a bike!
Perhaps that’s what it means to say that the commandment to love one another as Jesus loves is not burdensome. Maybe it sets us free in a way we cannot imagine unless we put our fear aside, make a few wobbly attempts, skin our knee a time or two, and figure out how exactly to love one another as Jesus loved us.
And then when we finally get it, it is exhilaration like no other. We are set free in God’s love to live as sisters and brothers together, without having to hang on to all of that burdensome baggage that comes with trying to do it by ourselves. It’s only impossible when we think we have to do it alone.
And so, as this season is ending and likewise our brief sojourn with First John, I am hopeful that we will enter the next season transformed by God’s amazing love.