Remain in My Love

Faith, courage, and love can only come through the grace of God.

Jesus’ words are never soft, never passive, never easy. For example, let us look at some of the many beloved passages in John’s Gospel and their implications for us. In John 15:9, Jesus tells the disciples, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.” It sounds so beautiful. Who does not want to be so loved? But what does Jesus mean here?

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We can only begin to understand this question, by looking at another passage from the Spirit inspired quill of the Apostle John. “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love” (1 Jn 4:7-8). Here is a truth that is far beyond any human concept of love, no matter how poetic, romantic, or even noble. And we can only begin to know this love by having a personal relationship with Jesus. We can develop this relationship with Jesus through prayer and by reading the scriptures.

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Jesus tells us in Jn 10:30, that he and the Father are one, that when we see him, relate to him, and conform our wills to his will, we are seeing, relating to, and conforming our wills to the Father’s will. As Jesus says to Philip, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works” (Jn 14:10). The Father is this Love and this love is revealed to us in Jesus, because Jesus and the Father are One.

John also tells us, at the beginning of his Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1). Jesus is the Word, that is, he is the very essence of the Father’s love, incarnated in human flesh. Jesus is the incarnated, living power of the Father’s love, through which all things came to be, including our salvation.

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It is with this understanding that we come to contemplate Jesus’ statement, “As the Father loves me, I also love you. Remain in my love.” Jesus isn’t speaking in abstractions here. He gives us the very practical means through which we can begin the struggle, with all of our strength, to “remain in his love.” He says, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love” (Jn 15:10). And here’s the kicker; he tells us this so that his joy might be in us, and our joy might be complete” (Jn 15:11).

Notice here, Jesus is not imposing this commandment of love on us, rather, he proposes it to us. We know by our own experiences, too, that keeping the commandments is not easy for we are up against the inner and outer powers of darkness, that is, our own fears, doubts, temptations, and the rulers of this world. It requires growing humility and great courage in cooperation with God’s generous grace-filled invitation to remain in his love.

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Concerning the commandments, Jesus is asked, “Teacher, of the Commandments, which is the greatest?” He responds, “Love God with your whole being and your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:37-40). And, in his final commandment, Jesus tells us, “to love one another as he has loved us” (Jn 13:34-35). The Gospels also reveal that to keep the commandments of love in this world as Jesus did, demands great faith and courage. For the world all too often misunderstands, abuses, fears, despises, and even rejects this love. This faith, courage, and love can only come through the grace of God.

In faithfully and courageously keeping his commandments, we will remain in Jesus and he will remain in us. This total love of God and neighbor is the only force that can truly change the world for the good. This is how we fulfill our calling as Christians to go out and preach the Good News to all the world in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

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