28 October 2017

John 15:17-27

“I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you.” (vv. 17-18)

Psalm: Psalm 117


Conflicts within our churches and communities can often occur because of small, seemingly unimportant details, which one group thinks are more important than the others. What starts off as a disagreement about thingscan often escalate into being a personal vendetta against individuals and caricatures.

This same sequence is happening here. The world is criticising and demeaning the disciples, but Jesus encourages them not to get angry, or to make the conflict personal - but to realise that the tension is about the kingdom of God rather than a personal vendetta.

To the disciples, Jesus is telling them to expect persecution, but also to press into relationship rather than away from it. This is easier said than done! It is hard to move towards a relationship when the people responsible for the breakdown of trust, kindness, love, and family are keen on perpetrating the dislocation of relationship. It is hard to love each other when there is pain and betrayal and disappointment. It is difficult to follow Jesus, and to be called to a relationship with those who would do more harm.

It is no surprise, therefore, that this tough explanation is then followed by the promise of the Holy Spirit. Just when Jesus is presenting a bleak, honest, account of what is to happen - the disciples are promised the help they need in order to live faithfully and vulnerably, and in connection with others. The Holy Spirit will provide the resource and power to live in love.

The priest and hermit, Carlo Caretto has written the following about living in love:

 "Don't worry about what you ought to do.
Worry about loving.
Don't interrogate heaven, repeatedly and uselessly saying:
'what action should I take'.
Concentrate on loving instead.
By loving, you will find what is for you.
Loving you will listen to the Voice.
Loving you will find peace."

To Ponder

  • How can you make a move towards relationship in the midst of conflict this week?
  • What does 'living in love' mean for you?
  • What conflicts in your life and experience could be transformed by the Holy Spirit and by deeper relationships rather than dislocation?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Joanne Cox-Darling

Joanne Cox-Darling is a Methodist presbyter currently serving in the Wolverhampton Circuit, where most recently she participated in a harvest festival in a farmyard, surrounded by a 'small' dairy herd of nearly 200 cattle. Joanne is the chair of the Christian Enquiries Agency ( - described by the Archbishop of York as the "possibly the easiest form of evangelism you will ever do".