katapi HOME | Home |Sermon – John 15 – What the World Needs Now

... and HERE is the sermon from which this one was adapted!

In 1965 Burt Bacharach wrote a song he didn't believe in.
He and Hal David offered it to performer Dionne Warwick, who turned it down.
Bacharach was reluctant to play it for Jackie DeShannon, but he finally did, and she liked it.
Together they recorded, "What the World Needs Now is Love."
The hit made it into the top ten here and in the U.S., and Canada.
Since then, it has been performed by over 100 artists in a variety of settings.
Dionne Warwick did record it eventually.

Think about the song's title: "What the World Needs Now is Love."

Isn't that the truth?

Love is the antidote for loneliness, for apathy, for worry, for hatred, for bitterness, for purposelessness.
Love fills the voids of our lives.
Our world is in desperate need of love, and we have it.
Loves comes from God.
In fact, John tells us right from the start of the gospel that, "God is love."
To know the true character of love, get to know God.

Today's passage (John 15:17-16:1) has warnings of persecution that continue through into chapter 16:
"The hour is coming when anyone who kills you will claim to be offering worship to God."

Let's just focus for a moment on how the passage begins.

In today's passage, Jesus is preparing his disciples for his imminent departure.
He has trained and led them for three years.
Now he only has a few more hours to share with them at their last meal together.
Only a few hours to live.
And what does he talk about?

He talks about LOVE.

John's account of the Last Supper spans 5 chapters of his Gospel (Chs.13-17.)
Today we've reached as far as Chapter 15.
Let's just run through the chapter together.

It begins, "I am the vine.
My Father is the
vine-dresser.
I am the vine.
You are the branches.
So long as you remain in me and I in you, you bear much fruit."

Jesus shows the SOURCE and DOWNWARD FLOW!
He'll carry this analogy right through the chapter!

Moving on, comes its NATURE.
"Remember. You didn't choose me. I chose you.
So love one another just as I have loved you.
There is no greater LOVE than this.
That a man should lay down his life for his friends."

LOVE as a VERB comes 6 times in Chapter 15!

It's funny how things stick in your mind!
From Junior School days I remember being taught that a VERB is a DOING word.
It makes things happen!

The answer to hatred is to LOVE.
It's what we are commanded to DO! –
Always DO the loving thing!

And this is not your puppy love from school days.
This is not romantic love.
This is a different kind of love,
AGAPE love: wilful, purposeful, decisional, sacrificial.
(AGAPE love has come down to us through the Latin CARITAS – CHARITY!)

John contrasts this with another kind of love in today's passage.
"If you belonged to THE WORLD, the world would LOVE you as its own."
Here the word used is PHILIA: the affectionate brotherly love of friendship and fellowship –
"Can you feel the love tonight" in the words of Elton John's popular song.



(Another word John uses here is KOSMOS.
When John uses it, he means THE WORLD,
but we use it in a much broader sense.)

Jesus teaches us at least three things about AGAPE love as we listen in with the disciples.

First, he urges us to
1. D
raw on love's source.

In the passage just before today's reading,
Jesus says,
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
Now remain in my love."

From Father to Son, to all of God's children, God's love flows to us.
Notice the tense.
The Father "has loved" Jesus.
Jesus "has loved" us.
It's already happened.

Our job is but to "remain" in that love. (Remember! We are the branches bearing fruit on that vine!!!)
Other translations use the word "continue", "dwell" or "abide."
We must all make yourselves at home in his love.

God is our source of love, and his supply never runs low.
When you have trouble loving someone, whether friend or enemy, ask God for the love you need.
He will surely supply it, for it is in his very essence and will.

So draw on love's source,
and 2. Choose to love.

Our society likes to portray love as a feeling, and it is.
But much more so, love is a decision.
If you've been married more than a week, you know that at times you have to choose to love your spouse.
Marriage is a laboratory to learn selflessness.
Every healthy marriage requires commitments of both husband and wife to choose to love at times.
And the funny thing is, as you make that choice, the feelings usually follow.

But it's not just in marriage that we choose to love.

Listen to Jesus' language here:
Verse 10: "If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love."
Verse 12: "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."
And Jesus' wrap-up in today's opening sentence: "This is my command: Love each other."

You cannot command an emotion!
I cannot say to you, "Be happy!"
I guess I can say it, but whether you're happy or not can't be forced.
So, if love was simply an emotion, how could Jesus command us to do it?
Therefore, love is more than an emotion; it is a decision.
And Jesus links it irrevocably here to keeping his commands.

To summarize, he says, "If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love.
And by the way, one of my commands is to love each other the way I have loved you."

It sounds nice, until someone really gets on your nerves.
You hate the way they gossip about everybody.
You feel hurt they left you out of their gathering.
You're angry they never call you.
What must we do then?
Give in to temptation and resentment?
Or shall we CHOOSE to love them, and in so doing, stay in Jesus' love?

Choose love and see what God will do.

And lastly, 3. Love until it hurts.

Mother Teresa once said, "I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love."

So, whether you're talking marriage partner, friend, son, granddaughter, neighbour, staff member: it doesn't matter.
Every relationship in our lives require some level of sacrifice.
If we're going to love, we're going to need to go to love's source;
we're going to make a choice to love;
and sometimes we're going to love until it hurts.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love.
It's the only thing that there's just too little of.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love.
No not just for some, but for everyone.

Amen.