1. “When he (Judas) was gone” (John 13.31)
So easily we slip over apparently unimportant words. Big mistake. Every word in the Bible is there for a reason.
· Why does Jesus wait till Judas left the room?
- · Judas did not love either Jesus or the other disciples
- · Judas was a religious politician – his presence polluted the community spiritually and he excluded himself
- · Community could not glorify God until everyone loved God and the others and had the gift of the Holy Spirit
- · Revelation Reading gives us a list of those who defile a Christian spiritual community – cowardly, unbelieving, murderers, sexually immoral, magic, idolatry and all liars
2. I give “you” a new command
Who is “you” – The community of faithful believers who will not betray Jesus.
- · Jesus is limiting His command to believers
- · Jesus is not trying to change the world
- · Jesus is creating a new spiritual kingdom of people who live temporarily in the world and obey its laws, but live spiritually or emotionally in a higher loyalty to the Kingdom of God
- · Jesus knows how hard this will be so he commands self-sacrificial love as a norm for inclusion
- · Persecution is coming and they must be able to depend on each other and Him / the Holy Spirit for strength
3. Building a community where people love one another
The community will not survive persecution unless everyone is seriously committed to belief in Jesus and the self-sacrificial love He modelled.
- · Admission to membership is exclusive
- · Admission is conditional on willingness to surrender “my way” for Jesus way
- · Seekers not expected to be perfect – expected to be willing to receive teaching, put whole trust in Jesus, repent sins and ask Jesus for forgiveness
- · Seekers need to be prepared for baptism and particularly the baptism of the Holy Spirit
- · Receiving the Holy Spirit and gifts of love, joy and peace is a sign that someone is now part of the community
4. Agape Love is the first spiritual gift
Our first question when we are born is “Is this a safe place”? For many, sadly, it is not. Others have mothers and fathers who have overcome their natural fear and are able to love unconditionally. These children develop the self-confidence and trust they need to overcome the obstacles of life. Others become beaten down by life and live by fear, manipulation and control.
- · I have already shared my experience of growing up in a fairly critical and intellectual environment, getting into a marriage that was not life giving
- · I only came alive spiritually and emotionally through the love of Lucille and my healing experiences of the Holy Spirit
- · I learned that our personal spirit is what connects us intuitively to each other and God
- · I have been very blessed by the self-giving love of the Anglican spiritual community at St. Cuthbert & St. Georges in Sundre, Alberta for over 20 years
God is glorified by the holiness, unity and self-giving love of His people when they gather for worship.