Reframing Love and Hate | John 15-16:4

June 23, 2019 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: REFRAMING JESUS | Portraits of Glory from John's Gospel

Topic: Gospel Passage: John 15:16–16:4

Introduction | Love and Hate

Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series REFRAMING JESUS: Portraits of Glory from John’s Gospel.  In Reframing Jesus, our desire isn’t to reinvent Jesus into someone He is not Instead, we seek to have our portrait of Jesus reframed to see Him as accurately and glorious as possible.

What is Love and Hate? The words have an intensity around them. We use them a little too flippantly so they don’t have the depth of meaning any longer. We love our family and friends, but we also love tacos. We hate war, death, and injustice, but we also hate Nickelback. So the words get cheapened and yet we still have the deep longings, emotions, and experiences that we need to process. When we consider the depths of our souls when it come to love and hate, the what are the big ideas we’re trying to encapsulate? Acceptance and rejection. Belonging and isolation. Things get more complex when you start working in ideas like pain, grief, sorrow, happiness, joy, fullness. Some are positive and others are negative so if something feels negative then we hate that feeling and assume it’s wrong. When something is enjoyable or feels good we love that feeling so we assume it’s good. The problem is we’re stuck assessing things ourselves specifically with our feelings. Our feelings aren’t always wrong, but they’re not always right. There are things that are incredible painful that lead to great growth in a variety of ways, and there are things that feel great for a time but ultimately are not profitable. So we have to consider what it truly means to be loved and love, and what and why we’re experiencing hatred or rejection.  We are in a world that is broken, and we’re all people who are broken.  Don’t we all just want to be home? Don’t we want to belong? To know we have life, to know it matters? Do any of us like rejection or even feeling hatred either towards us or we’ve directed to others? When we’re rejected, we experience being cut off, when we’re loved we have a sense of connection and life. Jesus wants us to understand what true connection and life look like with God and others while processing the truth of rejection we are Reframing Love and Hate.

PART I | We are loved branches | John 15:1-11   

John 15:1-11 | “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

This is the last of Jesus’ 7 I AM statement in John. Jesus and the disciples are likely walking from the last supper to the garden of Gethsemane, maybe even walking by or through one of many vineyards, or they could have been near the court of the temple which had a large ornate golden grapevine which was a national symbol of connection with God and abundant blessing of fruitfulness and life and Jesus says:

 He is the vine (v1,5) – Jesus is the source of life for the purpose of bearing fruit. You want to know where personal and corporate flourishing are going to come from, it’s Jesus. A vine is what is rooted into furtile ground, a vine is where live flows through, it’s is the source for the branches, it is also connected to the source. A vine is necessary for fruitfulness. The type of vine Jesus is talking about isn’t fruitless, but it is purposeful and productive. He says we are branches that ABIDE (are held together, survive, live) in the vine that is Jesus. We are held together and survive as Jesus ABIDES (dwells/lives/continues) in us. Jesus uses this metaphor of the vine to talk about what fruitfulness looks like as a disciple. Disciples are to grow and produce lives marked by fruitfulness. This is pleasing to God, it brings Him glory as we produce fruit (repentance, mission, production for flourishing) This fruitfulness is a mark of those who are disciples of Jesus. We always think about fruit as being something tangible, some mission or evangelism work. But he’s also talking about the fruit of the Spirit of what God is doing inside of you to grow you and shape you.

God the Father is the Gardener (v1,2-) We are loved by God to produce fruit in our lives and the world we live in. God as the gardener means there is one who working to shape and change those connected to Jesus specifically He’s is Pruning what is growing more for growth –  Healthy vines are pruned vines.

Pruning is always painful. Ever seen a bush or vines when they’re pruned back? They don’t look right, especially right after it’s been done. It can look weird even lifeless at times. Real vineyard pruning is more than small tweaks or course corrections it’s usually more dramatic. It cuts, it feels even like wounds at times. There are things in our lives God is working to prune from us that feel painful to endure but He knows are necessary for our good. We struggle to understand, Pain doesn’t always mean harm. It can, if you get burned or have one of your actual limbs cuts off. But sometime we think because something is painful or difficult that it must be wrong or harmful, when the reality is God is working our lives for a purpose.

Pruning is purposeful. I don’t think it is any accident that Jesus talks about a vine and not a tree or a vegetable. Each of these can grow well on their own with little outside influence. But a vine by it’s nature grows best when carefully placed and guided by a trellis.  Trellis are the structured environments we intentionally created hoping to foster organic growth. There is pain that happens in our lives that is self-inflicted. But when it’s pruning, that is the work of a master gardener/ or vinedresser. God is one who knows what He’s doing. There are so many techniques even moving varieties so it’s not a toddler with a chainsaw but a master artesian who knows what will produce the best fruit for the place and season. Things get cut off that appear healthy or that don’t make sense to the those who aren’t vinedressers.  Fruit bearing branches get pruned back to make more fruit in the next season. Sometime vines/branches are taken and grafted into other mature pruned back vines so that they growth can happen more rapidly. Being pruned is evidence of God’s nearness in your life. If you’re bearing fruit you should expect to be pruned.

Pruning is productive. All of the pain of pruning is for a purpose, for God to bring more growth to us. It’s not let’s cut and wound, and painfully prune for no reason. Its “so it will bear more fruit”. God prunes what is already producing fruit. It is ok to have times and seasons were everything seems to be humming along, but we shouldn’t expect being in the vine, even being fruitful, to mean we’re not going to experience the pain of pruning. An unpruned vineyard is an unkept, and unloved vineyard. There may be some fruit, but it’ll never produce as much as it could or should. Everyone wants growth without the pain that comes to produce growth.  

We are the branches (v2,5)- This means we’re not the source and we’re not the gardener, we are dependent on both to experience life and to produce the way we were designed to. There are two types:

We’re either branches that are ABIDING (Holding together, dwelling, surviving) in the vine that is Jesus. There is an expectation that abiding in Jesus will produce fruit in your life. There is also assurance that if we are in Christ, we are, as Jesus says “already clean because of His words to us. He’s declared that we’re no longer diseased cut off branches but we’re clean, connected, and created to produce fruit. People who have been saved by Jesus’s work, WILL be changed by Jesus’ grace. We say that because we are not able on our own to produce anything of lasting fruitfulness. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing, produce nothing. All we produce is a function of our connection to and abiding in the source of life, love, and purpose. With Jesus we will bear MUCH fruit.  This means we’re branches that are humbly dependent on the vine for everything. We know how powerless we are and how we need to be constantly feed by the source because without Jesus..

We are Fruitless withered branches. Because of disconnection from the source of life, cut of removed, they go from looking like something that could potentially bear fruit to dry and dead. When you cut branches they still look like branches for a time, but without being fed by the source they turn brown and lifeless. But more than dead, disconnected branches don’t become compost they become fire fuel. This is not good news, Jesus isn’t threatening his disciples He’s drawing out a contrast to give them comfort during times of difficulty. In the same breath as letting them know about the pain of pruning, telling them it’s productive for greater life he’s reminding them of how great the eternal pain of being cut off from the vine is. Separated fruitless branches will be gathered and discarded, while connected branches will generate joyful fruit.

God’s motive for us Abiding in Jesus, even being pruned by Him is ultimately our Joy. Joy knowing we’re loved intentionally by the Father, Joy knowing we’ve been loved and pursued by Jesus. The Joy of Jesus is ours so our Joy may be full. To ABIDE in, and be a disciple of Jesus is to know we are people who are greatly loved, and to have Jesus’ joy in us. The motive when talking about discipleship and being on the mission of the gospel is God’s glory and our Joy. What greater security and  motivation could we have for anything we could do? This motive comes from our new identity as Christians. Our identity is secure as we abide in Jesus, so when we talk about intentional discipleship, or pruning, obedience, or pain it is not a discussion about saved or not, in or out, but one of more or less joy, greater or lesser fruitfulness as we walk in faithfulness.

PART II | Loved as friends to be loving friends | John 15:12-17

John 15:12-17 | 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.  16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Loved people who love one another (v12-17) In order to be loved, experience belonging, we need to Abide in Jesus, the vine as a needy branch. While Jesus, should be, is enough, if we’re going to experience love it will be in relationships (Gospel Friendship) with other people. Loved by God, to love people. Jesus has already told them this is a new command because we don’t/won’t do this naturally. We can willfully engage with others in the activities and attitudes that are loving. Pastor Kent Hughes sees three categories: Gospel Friendship is Sacrificial (v13-14)- THE basis for how Jesus has loved us is His sacrifice. The greatest demonstration of love is not affection, but sacrifice. Not emotions, but actions. It doesn’t mean there is only duty and no desire, but it’s sacrifice driven by desire for others. It’s showing up in the lives of others. Think of your closest friends, while they don’t likely stack up to Jesus, they’ve likely shown up for you at key times. We have to be careful to not use this as manipulation to say “you’ll love if you sacrifice for me” or “I wanted something from you and you didn’t give it.” That’s not friendship, that’s codependency. Jesus initiates  with us so we can initiate with others. This is the actions and attitudes we take when we want to be loving to others. Because Jesus has loved us sacrificially we can be people who love others sacrificially.

Gospel Friendship is Mutual (v15)-  Yes Jesus is our Lord, Jesus is our King, Jesus is God and we’re not. The new testament is full of us as God’s servant language. But we misunderstand the fullness of the depth of relationship we have when we forget part of how Jesus engages with us is in calling us friend. That is identity and status. True friendship doesn’t have a hierarchy, in order for Jesus to call us friend we have to meet a bit on the same plane. That means Jesus would naturally have to lower himself to meet us. Think for a second about the distance crossed for Jesus to call us friend. We all want friendship and belonging. Most of us aren’t looking for a king (we think we’ve got that covered) but we all want a friend. It means there is an intimacy of relationship and communication. With parent-child we hold back, with boss employee there is a bit held back. But Jesus is sharing with us so we can share ourselves with him. Jesus says that he’s shared all he’s heard from the Father for us. That means, in Jesus, God is not holding back on us. While there are things that we don’t yet know or things we don’t fully understand It’s not because we haven’t been given what we need to know and understand. In Gospel friendship we can be people who are venerable and transparent with our true friends because we don’t have to worry about what we share being weaponized. It’s “safe” not from push back or correction but we know we’re not going to be rejected. Friendship doesn’t leave us treated like objects or slaves because we’re in a mutual relationship.  

Because Jesus loves us and calls us “friend” our friendships with others are mutual, grace based, and humble.

Gospel Friendship is Promoting (v16) Encouraging-  Being chosen as Jesus friends (based on no merit on our own) should be encouraging. We were not looking for Jesus but he found us anyway.  Jesus knows he needs to initiate with us. So he pursues us to promote us. He knows we need purpose so he says he “appointed” us to go bearing fruit that abides in Him. He grants access to God the Father saying if you ask for things that will lead to greater (spiritual) fruit in your life God will do it. Good friends are for the success of others, not threated by it.  We can be people who pray for each other, who seek out and find what is good and commendable in others encouraging one anther to continue to grow as we all are reliant on God for all things.  

PART III | The World Calls us Enemies |John 15:18-16:4

John 15:18-16:4 | 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

Why do we need to abide in Jesus why do we need Gospel friendship that look like Jesus in our lives? Jesus knows we need to abide in Him and that we need to be in loving friendship with one another because the world we’re in is hostile. We all want the approval and acceptance of other people and society, etc and Jesus lets us know you’re not going to get it from everyone in the world especially if you’re following him.

Why? We’re not greater that that master (yup we’re friends, but Jesus is still the master) I love that as Jesus is telling we’re friends we never forget He’s our God, Lord, and King. We can know that Jesus loves us but the world (that which is opposed to God) hates Jesus. Since we abide (dwell) in Jesus the world will naturally hate us as well. If love is active so is hatred, persecution, even just not being accepted, or rejected is part of life. We can expect to be hated, we can expect to face opposition, if everyone in the world loves you, you’re doing it wrong. That’s were we cannot rely on smooth sailing to think everything is ok. Sure, we’re jerks, we’re failures, we’re self-righteous, so there are lot’s of reasons people might not like me/you/us, but we can know that if we’re being faithful to Jesus than it means we can expect opposition from a world that also opposes Jesus.  That means if we’re abiding in Jesus, bearing fruit, with Gospel friendships, we’re likely going to have some level of suffering in the world.

PART IV | Bring it home | John 15:26-16:4

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.

We are not alone but comforted by the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us this so we can have realistic expectations for what being one of His disciples looks like. So when challenges and trials come we don’t “fall away” believe somehow that difficulty and pain are signs of God’s distance in our lives when they may in fact be signs of fruitfulness in your life as God is loving you by pruning.

Do you feel cut off? Pray for God to Graft you in to the vine! Know you’re now part of the vine/family!

Are you suffering? Ask God so reveal His purposes, and rest knowing none of it is wasted but God is using all of it for your growth. Seek to be fruitful, knowing God is faithful as a loving garderner.

Where do you need to live out gospel friendship with others? Who can you sacrifice for? Who can you meet where they are at? Who can you encourage and empower? Where are you facing opposition from the world?

Take heart! As sinners, enemies of God we are all cut off branches, that God the Master Gardner grafts into the true vine that is Jesus, in doing so we  are made into true friends and family by the work of Jesus laying down His life in our place. We are loved by God to bear joyful fruit even in the midst of rejection and hatred of Christ and His people. So we can remember we abide in the source of all life who willingly calls us “friend” when we Trust Jesus.

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