“If you love me, keep my commands.” John 14:15
Could it really be that simple? My natural reaction is to first say, “But…” and come up with a defense or an exemption. Could it really be that black and white? How can such a vast, all powerful God place such a simple choice of love and obedience into our hands?
Perhaps that is why in Matthew 18:24, Jesus encourages us to come to him with a child-like faith. Children do not bargain for love; they simply offer it with such an excitement to those closest to them. Children do not get surprised when parents or teachers tell them to do something or correct their behavior; they simply decide whether or not they want to listen. On the whole, children see the world in simpler terms than adults. They do not look through the same veil when determining how to love and whether to obey.
So how should we react to Christ’s words? It is truly still that simple! If we love Him as our Lord and Savior, then we need to respond with obedience. This is the simple admittance in relationship with God: You trust Him with your life – not only your eternity, but your present.
Think about a marriage. If you love your spouse, you act on that love. You respond in obedience when they ask you to pick up the kids from school or to help with the dinner dishes. This is not a burden in a right relationship, rather it is the rich reward of living and working daily in a relationship full of trust and love. In fact, every decision to love someone involves self-sacrifice of control, time, resources, etc., since loving others means placing their needs above your own.
So what are God’s commands? Christ explicitly answers this question in Matthew 22:37-40: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” If we love God, our response is to love Him with all that we are, with every decision we make and to love others in a similar way.
This command is not a new one. It is the golden rule you have heard since you were little. But that is the danger of well-known truths: They become opaque and lose their power in our lives if we forget what they mean. What we must never forget or overlook is the true joy and power of self-sacrificial love!
Obeying God’s commands and loving Him with our whole lives leads to closeness and intimacy in relationship with Him! This is the greatest gift: to be in oneness and unity with God. Just like any relationship, the more time we spend with the Lord, surrendering to Him and loving Him in action and in deed simply because He loved us first, the closer we become with Him. And if you truly know Him, there is no other place worth being.
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