May 14, 2023: “If you love me…”

multicolor hands

Sixth Sunday of Easter

“If you love me . . .”

“If you love me . . .” This phrase brings the thought of conflict in our human communications: parent vs. child, spouse vs. spouse, child vs. child. This phrase is often used as a lead-in to a request that was previously denied, to prove one’s love to the other. Jesus’ use of it in this Gospel lesson shows how timely the gospel is. Jesus understands humanity and human nature. Jesus is aware of our humanity, our proneness to sin.

Our sins are not always the big ones, but rather an accumulation of little ones that reveal our nature. What God and Jesus require of us as believers is to try. Try to tell the truth, all the time, especially to yourself. Try to act ethically, all the time. Be kind, all the time. Be generous, all the time. It’s the all-the-time that makes it difficult. Do I really have to act kindly to someone who is being rude to me?

In response to this challenge, “If you love me, keep my commandments,” I try to expand my prayer life, praying not only for my family, my church, but Vladimir Putin, North Korea, Iran, and so on. I don’t tell God what to do; I only pray for discernment. Other tactics are to keep track of those things I would like to accomplish (I can procrastinate sometimes), to be kind to people I come in contact with—the grocery clerk, the various staff at the doctor’s office. You get the idea. “They will know we are Christians by our love.”

Love God, and love everyone else. It’s a tall order, but we need only to reach out to those around us. I am proud of our congregation that has a once-a-month collection of food for the food bank; clothing, sheets, towels for Cynthia’s Boutique; and plastic bags for recycling. We can live the commandment to love, one small step at a time.

Martha E. Griffis
Central Moravian Church
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania