Focal Passage: John 15:9-14
Love is a difficult word to live. Jesus gave it to us as a command – not just to love Him, not just to love God, but to love “one another” with this perfect agape love.
One of the great children’s stories, which also serves as a parable about love, is The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams. The main character is a boy who treasures above all else in the world a velveteen rabbit given to him one Christmas. The toy rabbit’s great prayer is that he would become real. But he didn’t know what “real” meant.
Then one day he and another toy, the skinned horse, had a life-changing conversation. Here is part of the skinned horse’s wisdom: “Real isn’t how you are made. It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become real. … It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter, because once you are real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Love is what Jesus wants us to become. The key word in John 15 is “abide” or “remain.” It’s all about relationship. If we want to produce Christian fruit, we must stick with Jesus no matter what.
In Williams’ tale the boy was taken ill with scarlet fever. In order to arrest the disease, all of his belongings, including the velveteen rabbit, had to be burned. As the toy bunny shed a human tear, he miraculously became real.
When we love, even to the point of sacrificing deeply for another, we likewise become real. Jesus is our model for love; furthermore, because He loves us so much, He gives us the ability and power to love.