Friday, June 1, 2012

John 14:15

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15)

This morning I am only going to look at this one verse. I went back and reread this chapter and highlighted the “ifs” in this chapter. “...if it were not so...” (vs. 2); “if I go...” (vs.3); “If you really knew me...” (vs. 7); “If you love me...” (today’s verse); “If anyone loves me...” (vs. 23); and “If you loved me...” (vs. 28). These are all conditional statements that speak to important truths Jesus is trying to get across to His disciples. In particular, “if you love me...” indicates that there is a definite way to prove our love for Him. In this morning’s verse He tells the disciples that loving Christ means obedience to His Word.

This indicates to me that what Jesus is looking for in His relationship with us is not warm, fuzzy feelings from us. We have to remember that Jesus is the initiator of this relationship. We love Him because He first loved us! (I John 4:19) “Love” is a verb of action. What Jesus is looking for from His own is action that springs from our belief in Him. If we are truly His disciples, we will be sitting at His feet, learning from Him, then DOING what He asks of us.

And He’s not asking us to obey Him to lay a burden on us. He already loves us beyond anything we can imagine. Our obedience doesn’t make Him love us more. He asks us to obey Him, because He knows that disobedience wreaks havoc in our lives and stumbles others. As a teacher I set certain standards of behavior in my classroom. It isn’t because I love to control 5th graders or because I want to lay as many rules as I can on them. It is because I want to establish the best learning environment for them. It doesn’t matter to me whether or not they “love” me - I want them to learn as much as possible. The highest form of respect they can pay me is to obey the class rules. In the same way, we show our love for Christ when we carefully listen to His teachings and set our minds and hearts to obey.

For instance, one of Jesus’ commands is that we love our enemies and do good to them (that’s love in action). When Jesus asks us to do this, He’s not asking us to “feel” anything; He’s asking us to obey through our actions. So, when someone has betrayed me, even though my first instinct is to become defensive and gather my little gang of support through gossip, Jesus tells me to love that person instead. This would be impossible for me to do in my own strength!

I fight this battle a lot, and frequently have an initial fleshly response to attacks. Yes, I gather my little group of supporters and drag them into the battle with me!!! If left to my own power, there is NO way I could act in a loving manner toward someone who hurts me. How could I “do good” - respond with patience and kindness and respect? It’s NOT possible!

So is Jesus asking the impossible? Yes! But He has just told His disciples that where there is NO way, HE is the WAY! And He has provided the help we need to obey His commands. In our next passage we will see how He has made that way for us to obey when everything in us wants to go in the opposite direction.

Are you facing an impossible situation which requires you to just believe and obey? I am this very morning! I’ve been betrayed yet again by someone, and I want so badly to just march up and down with a poster screaming out to the world what was done. But that is NOT what Jesus wants me to do. So instead, I’m praying for a way to deal with the situation in kindness... LORD, help me!  

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