Lesson 3: March 19, 2017
God’s Love is Manifest: John 15:1-17
Teaching Strategy: Use the growth cycle of a vine or plant to explore the metaphor of the vine and the branch as expressions of God’s love and our ability to be fruitful. Ask participants to identify the ways that God shows love to us today (perhaps using a simple illustration of a vine and branches).
Discuss how God’s love for us might inspire or enable us to show love to others in our world, even when we find it most difficult.
Jesus uses the image of a vine and branches to describe the intimate relationship between God’s love for him and the love he shares with his followers. “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” (v. 4). Humans (branches) cannot produce “fruit” (love) without their connection to the vine (Christ). Jesus then describes the interconnection between loving God and being obedient to God: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” (v. 9-10a). “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (v. 12).
God’s love and the call to love are at the heart of the gospel. In the words of the familiar hymn, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” But what does it mean to love as God loves? How do we show God’s love to others – near and far? In the midst of our troubled world, what are some of the times and places where we find it most difficult to love – to know how to love and to find the power to love? Whether it is close to home in the midst of broken family relationships, in our nation divided by vastly different perspectives and sometimes hostile politics, or in a world struggling to defeat terrorism and care for the refugees who are its victims – how might we show God’s love? How does God’s love for us help us understand and give us the ability to love?
Consider the following or identify the issues (the challenges to love) and resources most salient in your own community.
- Reflections on the question Are Christians Responding to Divorce the Way God Intended?
- New York Times article on Lessons Plans: Talking Across Divides: 10 Ways to Encourage Civil Classroom Conversation.
- The Ecumenical Declaration Protecting Welcome – Restoring Hope signed by representatives of Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican communions in the United States, Church World Service and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States, on February 10, 2017.