Scripture: John 14:23-29
While John 14 graces us with a blessing of peace, it also holds us accountable. Before Jesus speaks of peace, before he promises the Spirit, he reminds his followers that truly knowing and loving God cannot be separated from actions: “Those who love me will keep my word.”
So, as we near the end of our Easter celebration, we see a glimpse of the answer to our question, “What’s next?” It is not an easy answer, but it is an answer nonetheless: We, the church, are to be the incarnational presence of God in the world. We are to love God and love one another, not just with our words but with our actions.
This is not easy work. There are constant temptations and setbacks. But it is inescapably our work. As Jesus teaches us in John 14, this means that our words and actions must be in sync. We cannot believe in the love of God and act out hate, even of the smallest kind. We cannot believe in God’s grace and withhold grace from others. We cannot believe Jesus came for everyone but exclude a person or group.
Love means love. And love cannot be compartmentalized. To love God is to love others. To love others is to love God (see John 13:34-35).
Thankfully, we are not left alone under the weight of this call to integrity. We have the Holy Spirit to teach us and encourage us. As Jesus reminds us, when we proclaim our love for God in harmonious word and deed, the Trinity abides in us in the person of the Holy Spirit. And perhaps, with the Spirit’s help and God’s grace for our failures, we can hold together the gift of God’s grace with the call to act it out.
God of love, we give you our attempts and failures at living lives full of integrity. Transform us, abide in us, that we may be your loving presence. Amen.
By Rose Schrott, Upper Room Disciplines 2022, p. 171