The US Army has a slogan: Mission First, People Always. In three chapters, from John thirteen through fifteen, Jesus summarizes for his disciples everything they need to know about being a Christian. Those three chapters can be further boiled down into one line, 6 words: Love first; Abide in Jesus always. This is what Christian discipleship is all about: First staying intentional about love, and second, abiding in Jesus Christ. But even in saying that there is a two-part nature to both the Army's slogan and to my condensation of John 13-15, we are noting a connectedness, a unity. I cannot love without abiding in Jesus. A US Soldier cannot be faithful to her mission without always considering her people -- both the people of her unit and the people she has left behind while she serves our country. The unity is one of relationship. For too many people, their primary goals for life have become separated from their relationships. In many businesses the bottom line has overtaken any duty to serve the customer. In too many governments around the world, and perhaps even here, the competitive spirit of partisanship and winning overtakes the basic task of government, that is to be in a healthy and positive relationship with the people. In too many churches, perhaps your own, the routine of being churchy has buried the joy of being in fellowship with each other and in love with Christ.
The greatest disease of the twentieth century is the loss of integrity. A loss of this oneness. Where we pursue our rights, without considering our responsibilities. Where we pursue our income, without considering our health. Where we pursue our work, without considering our relationships. Out of the loss of our integrity comes all manner of evil: racism, bigotry, cruelty, abuse, nationalism, and war. How different life would be today if only we had this oneness, which comes from Love first, Abide in Jesus Always.