“I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be complete.
‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.’” – John 15:11-14
I find that this “losing sight of the forest” happens in other areas of life as well. In John 15:1-16, Christ reminds us that He is the vine, we are the branches and God is the gardener who tends us. Sometimes we get so caught up in our small space in this intricate and complex garden that we are unable to see the bigger picture. We can forget that we are part of families, friendships and communities. We forget that, together, we make the world a better place; together, we “bear fruit—fruit that will last”.
Christ makes clear that he is our source of strength and our friend. In verses 11-14, he spans the full spectrum of friendship: joy and sacrifice of self. He bestows these words upon us so that His profound joy may be in us and so that our joy “may be complete”. I hope it brings us joy to know to know that we are planted exactly where we are meant to be, nourished as we need and brilliantly positioned to produce the “fruit” of our lives. I pray that we would openly receive the refreshment and nourishment that flows forth; and that we would not forget to take a deep breath, step outside ourselves and marvel at this intricate tangle of human lives that live, move and breathe with the substance of God’s love.
Stephanie Allen has attended St. Stephen’s since she moved to Houston in July to start medical school at Baylor College of Medicine. She attends the 10:30 service and is currently going through the Inquiry Journey class. Thus far, the St. Stephen’s community has been so welcoming and has provided the space and opportunities