Jesus didn’t say anything about how he wanted us, his followers, to organise ourselves. He didn’t tell us what we should do in our services. He didn’t tell us what management structures we should have. But he did say a lot about how he wanted us to treat each other and, in an extraordinary statement, he gave us a vision of what he wants us to be.
• Jesus said that he wants us to love each other. He said that it is by our love for each other that the world will know that we are his disciples (John 13:35).
• Jesus said that he wants us to be one (John 17:20-21). This is an extraordinary passage. Jesus wants us to be one in the same way that he and his Father are one and he wants all of us to be wrapped up in that indescribably beautiful relationship with him and his Father.
What a vision for us to want to achieve. We certainly won’t achieve it through our own efforts. But we will be part of the process of change within the church if we focus on obeying Jesus’ commandments, and put aside all the things that we do in our churches but which are not part of Jesus’ teaching.
Jesus said that if we love him we will keep his commands and he will ask the Father to give us the Spirit of Truth. The Greek text makes it clear that Jesus is not saying that if we love him we should obey his commands. He is saying that if we love him we will obey his commands. To put it another way; if we love him we will find ourselves obeying his commands. To put it yet another way; obedience to his commands is an inevitable consequence of our love for him.
So, if we love him we will find ourselves loving each other and this will convince the world that we are his disciples and we will have the Spirit of Truth.
All we have to do to make the church a different place is to obey Jesus’ commands. And the church will change – perhaps slowly, but it will change. It’s been changing ever since it began because God’s servants obeyed his commands. We have made mistakes, sometimes big ones, but God never stopped loving us, the Holy Spirit never stopped working in us, and the Kingdom of God never stopped its advance. Praise God – the church is changing today because Christians, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, are following the teachings of Jesus.