Love who? (John 15-L)

As David pointed out, this discourse is addressed to the disciples (actually it began with chapter 14 and goes through chapter 17).

John 15 is a beautiful poem in which grace or the kingdom of heaven if you please is a vine , and to be in the kingdom is to adhere to it. Actually it is a close analogue to Luke 20:9ff, Mark 12:1ff and Matt 20ff and actually has sources in Isaiah 5 and Jeremiah 12. The vineyard is thus a ubiquitous figure for the kingdom. John uniquely makes Jesus the vine. As I understand John, he has identified and equated Jesus (what Marcus Borg called the post-resurrection Christ) with the kingdom of God and set forth here the entrance requirements.

Remember, this is poetic, hence susceptible to multiple interpretations as all poetry is.


I don’t think that Jesus is telling the disciples to love only their own little group, although unfortunately that seemed to become the lodestone in the church rather early in its history– a tribalism and exclusivism that is the direct opposite of Jesus’ intention for us imho.

This has been the misunderstanding that has cursed the Christian Church even to the present, so that (some) Southern Baptists really believe that we are all going to hell. Soon after Constantine took charge of the Church, the ‘disciples’ started killing those who didn’t belong to their group. That misunderstanding (that we are to love only disciples) contradicts every thing that Jesus stood for imho.

John (particularly 1st John) and Jesus as well (according to the synoptics) believed that we relate to people in one of two ways: we love them or we hate them. They were teaching, it seems to me that we labor for the good of other people (love) or we don’t (hate).

Certainly John was saying special things to his disciples. We learn to love our group in one way and to love other people somewhat differently; but in both cases it’s love.

I loved my three boys, but each of them somewhat differently– according to their condition as I understood it. To love anyone (disciple or not) is to act in their interest as we see it.


6 responses

  1. Larry,I wonder how you would describe the feeling that God loves you? Dig deep: What does this really feel like to you? Where and when do you feel it? When did you first notice it? Have you ever loved anyone or anything like that?What do you think of the expression, that “God is love”? I only raise this because for me, when I touched my own feelings of God’s love for me, all my notions of loving others changed a bit. My feelings of love became more encompassing, more inclusive, not necessarily action oriented or different for different groups or individuals, but less of this temporal world and more just from the heart. It is difficult to articulate this. This feeling, I can tell you, includes you. My heart is so open to you. You are very special to me, dear Larry. I am honored to know you, and to dialogue with you. Namaste’

  2. I wonder how you would describe the feeling that God loves you? Dig deep: What does this really feel like to you? Where and when do you feel it? When did you first notice it? Have you ever loved anyone or anything like that?… great questions! I know you asked Larry, but hope you don’t mind if I answer too. I think I did feel the feeling of being loved by God once … it was like being in the path of a warm breeze. It made me cry.

  3. OMG, Meredith; I’m so glad you asked these questions; they are the essence of who I (and any of us) are.When: Aug 1956 reading a (fairly ordinary) evangelist who wanted to convince me that God loved me. He did, and my life changed dramatically from that moment until now. That was the peak experience of my life.”What does this really feel like?” Safe, OK, powerful, loving. Prior to that experience everyone was a threat. Afterward I saw dear friends many of them in need, and I had a great longing to help them with their problems. I still do though rarely very effectually.”What do you think of the expression, that “God is love”?” “All my notions of loving” began- from zilch. That’s why the change was so overwhelming. “Have you ever loved anyone or anything like that?” No way, not a chance; the best I can do is a very pale imitation, and the great miracle is that God still loves me just the same. And that goes for all of us. WOW!!!Thanks Meredith; you never fail to inspire me and bring out the best. That’s loving!!

  4. Crystal, thanks for sharing with us that beautiful feeling you had. I pray for you that it may become abiding and continuous until it become you.

  5. Crystal,I, too, thank you for sharing this feeling you had. It says so much. “…in the path of a warm breeze…” rings true for my experience, too. It is a rather overwhelming feeling, and we (I)hardly have words to describe it.Though we cannot make it happen, through our longing or desire, my heart tells me that I can create the conditions that encourage my own openness to this experience – that is through silence, meditation, walks in and observing nature, and being in the presence of loving friends. It will also most likely occur when spending time with people at both ends of the life spectrum – tiny newborns and the dying. Amazingly, I have felt it the most acutely during the period of my greatest sorrow – and therein felt comfort and loving expansion. I have come to a place now in my life that I do feel it rather continuously – I wake up in the morning feeling loved by something so vast, and go to sleep at night with the same feeling of loving embrace. Words fall short, but I grow to try to articulate it, and to share this with others. With Larry, I hold this loving energy open for you, my Friend, that you may feel it in the warm breezes today and everyday.

  6. Thanks Merdith and Laryy :-). I wish I could feel that feeling more often. Have you guys ever visited this site – The Alister Hardy Society Religious Experience Research Center at the University of Wales? They have a patron list including the archbishop of Canterbury and the Dalai Lama :-). I’m not sure what to make of it, whether it’s respectable or not, but it seems, from what they say, that religious experience has a lot of commonalities … kind of interesting.

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