John 15:10. 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.
Take a few minutes to meditate on this verse . . .
This scripture takes place within the context of the Last Supper before Jesus is betrayed and eventually crucified. Jesus and his disciples are gathered together in the Upper Room. He has washed their feet, shared a Passover meal, and is explaining to them about his death and resurrection. Before they leave to go to the Garden of Gethsemane, he prays for his disciples and “for those who will believe in (him) through their message.”
The first part of the verse seems fairly straightforward.
His disciples, as devout Jews, would have known the 613 laws that comprise the Torah—“the first five books of Moses.”
At the start of his teaching ministry, Jesus explicates the moral intricacies of this Jewish code in his Sermon on the Mount, found in chapters five through seven of the New Testament book of Matthew.
For example, Matthew 5:21-26:
“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister (without cause) you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult (abuse) a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell (Gehenna) of fire.
So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
The three chapters that comprise the Sermon on the Mount, elucidate the “honorable dispositions of humility, mournfulness, meekness, passion for justice, mercy and peace” at the heart of God’s commandments.
Coming to the end of his teaching in verse 12 of chapter seven, he summarizes the core commandment that encompasses the old and new.
Therefore, in everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. (NSRV)
The Complete Jewish Bible translates it this way:
Always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that sums up the teaching of the Torah and the Prophets.
What piqued my curiosity with intense fascination, however, was the latter half John 15:10 . . .
. . . just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
Jesus could have been talking about these same Pentateuch instructions, but I sense something more profound in the mix.
What were the commands God the Father, gave God the Son? In other words, what were the commands that God gave Himself?
God Herself gave Himself divine instructions through which to be—to exist.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing made had being. John 1:1-3
In other words, what is the Heart of Consciousness?
I have been reading through John’s gospel and I think I found the answer. During his last Seder with his beloved friends Jesus says:
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. John 13:34
Sounds easy, does it not?
This is not an “I love chocolate” declaration or a Hallmark love story movie that stirs the emotions of infatuation, lust, passion, tenderness, sentimentality or desire. The heart of this Love is much more significant than what I feel for my sons, grandchildren, family and other beloveds—as much as I dearly love them!
This Love is THE conscious awareness IN which all thought, feeling and sensation arises in one’s lifetime.
Now more than ever, we should be regularly asking ourselves, “what is this Loving Heart of all experience enjoining me to do?”
Why now more than ever? Because all of life’s existence literally hangs in the balance due primarily to human caused pandemic, environmental destruction, political, social and economic conflicts, climate change among many other related and catastrophic traumas now deeply embodied in the human experience.
I confess this examination of conscious was engendered by recent events in the news.
The first was people’s reactions to wearing face masks in response to preventing the spread of the Coronavirus. I am appalled by the lack of compassion, empathy and ignorance regarding this very simple act of kindness and love. Even our own President (yes, I am picking on him again), who should know that he leads by example, refuses to wear a mask.
Second, the heart wrenching and horrifying deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia; killed simply because of the color of their skin.
And last, the attempt of a Caucasion woman to “weaponize the police” against an African-American man who was bird watching. He merely asked the woman to leash her dog in accordance with the park directives.
How am I to respond to such virulent hatred? What should I do with the angst this creates? How does one manage the pain these loathsome deeds generate?
If I hold all my anxiousness, anger, sadness, and other emotions in the spaciousness of Her Love, the Peace that passes all understanding envelopes me. Then I can release it all through prayer, writing, singing, meditating, activism or some other constructive and loving pursuit.
It is not easy! It takes time, practice and patience. I fail and fall short more often than not . . .
. . . and so the practice continues.