Dividing Lines

Hanging up the phone, I pressed my face into my hands. It had been a rough call. As a nurse working in a doctor’s office in the middle of a pandemic, I was used to angry voices, but this one kind of hurt! I thought we had a good rapport. We had shared stories about kids, pets, holidays, and vacation nightmares. We celebrated big wins and grieved heavy losses.

Behind the angry voice on the phone, however, a lot was going on. The last few years have been contentious. Dividing lines have never seemed so wide. The weight of the rage, resentment, frustration, and fear of the whole world felt heavy. Every social media platform, news source, political group, and social justice movement was rife with angry voices and raised fists.

Here’s what Jesus had to say:
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 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. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: To lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. John 15:9-14 (NIV)

Shortly after Jesus spoke this passage, he told his disciples, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” It’s easy to see his words as a kind of justification, a way for us to point to acts of righteousness and feel comforted that God stands with us.

What Does Love Look Like?

The first thing Jesus pointed to in this John 15 passage is what it looks like to love. For him, the ultimate expression of his love for us was this: He died. For the love he had for his Father and for us, he chose death. In turn, he commanded us to love. This is how we will know we stand with Jesus. He told us that the world will hate us, but what did he choose to do for the world? He laid down his life.

As we walk through the different arenas of our lives, there will be times of disagreement. Remember the beauty of Jesus’ example: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8b). We are defined not by our allegiance to one side or the other across a dividing line, but by the love of a God who chose to lay down his freedom, his power, and his life to establish a relationship with those who stood opposed to him.


Next Steps

Take a moment to reflect on God’s love for you. Be reminded that Jesus’ death on the cross was not based on a sense of duty; he died because of a real, deep, and genuine love. You are cherished no matter what.

Pray that God will show you where your dividing lines lie and what it might look like to love others the way Christ chose to love you.

Jennifer Lim, RN, BSN, OCN, lives in a Chicago suburb. She can also be found on YourChurchNurse.org, which is dedicated to reflections and content related to faith and health.

Cultivate your spiritual health and well-being with Bible studies available by download on the NCF website. Study the Bible independently, meet with a friend, or join with nurses colleagues to know God better and reflect Christ at home and at work.


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