love 2: the responsiblity of love
8/04/2006 11:43:00 PM
Wow it's been a while since I've posted on this thing. That may be anew record, but who cares?

Anyways, apart from being a slacker and not posting, I wanted to finish a post that I started about two weeks ago on love. The post talked about the cost of love and and I noted how the Good Samaritan had no regard for the victim's background, proceeded long term and short term care, and did it at great personal expense. The principles show that the man had compassion, and it cost him something. Next I wrote about the mystery of love, and how absurd it really is to practice love according to human standards. Our nature is selfish, and love is counter-natural.

I left out part of the passage from John 15 intentionally, mainly because I wanted to reflect on it a little more. I was taken by some of the statements that Jesus made concerning the relationship of the disciples to himself and the mission that he gave to them. If you recall, these statements are made in the framework of "Love each other," the commandment that Jesus gave to them.

The first thing of note is the is dichotomy that Jesus is painting in this passage. The dichotomy is between slaves and friends. Slaves to the ancient Hebrews were not slaves in the context that we think of slaves. Slaves to us are people who are owned by somebody else and work for that person for no wages. Slaves to the ancient hebrews were usually not slavery for a life time, but to pay off some sort of debt. They would indenture themselves to a person as a slave for a given number of years, usually seven. At the end of those seven yaers, he could opt to remain a servant to the master or be set free. The slaves were more or less employees of their master, but they didn't have anything of there own and would usually live in quarters provided by the master. Being an employee, the relationship was a business relationship . An employee doesn't know all the affairs of the master. Usually, they have a touch and go relationship, where the employee does what the master tells him to do, and they never talk about anything other than those matters.

A friend on the other hand is something more. The word used to describe friend by Jesus in the Greek means a more than just a mere acquaintance, but a deep, intimate relationship between two people. By calling the disciples friends and not just servants means that he has a deep relationship with these guys. He had given them more than just an assignment, but also he has told them why they were given the assignment and all it entails. He taught the disciples all that God had revealed while he was on earth. They knew more than the commandments--they knew the commander, his purposes, and why these commandments were so important.

A second thing of note is that the disciples didn't choose Christ, but that Christ chose them. The disciples were Jesus' hand picked instruments to take the gospel to the world. However you take this (as a Calvinist, Armenian, or something else) it seem to me that Jesus is speaking pretty plainly when he notes that he chose them, and explicitly says that they didn't chose Christ. The work was entirely Jesus' doing. Jesus also told them that they would bear fruit. The Bible notes two kinds of fruit: fruit of the Spirit and fruit in terms of more people coming to faith in Jesus. The verb "go" is coupled with the word "bear". Jesus says "go and bear fruit" While it is uncertain which type of fruit Jesus is talking about, it both can apply. Spiritual progeny and fruit of the spirit are both things that requires time and cultivation. Both are active, thus "going" activities. Being Jesus' handpicked fruit bearers means that they would be carrying his name. In addition to understanding their status with Jesus (friends) these men understood who and what they were represent: God himself. They had to bear his burden and his name! That is a huge responsibility!

According to tradition, all but one of the apostles died a martyr's death for the sake of the cross. They knew the cost of love, and they also knew the responsibility too. Being a friend of Jesus was no small task, and by being his friend and obeying him, they suffered greatly. They were Jesus' chosen few to bear fruit in the world. These men and women had the responsibility to bear Christ's name. We should "Go and do likewise."

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