If you love me, keep my commands….Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. (John 14:15,21)
This builds on a previous post titled Trust and Obey.
Loving God is Crucial
C. S. Lewis said: A Christian society (nation, culture) is not going to arrive until most of us really want it. And we are not going to want it until we become fully Christian (living like Christ). I may repeat, “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” but I cannot really carry it out till I love my neighbor as myself. And I cannot love my neighbor as myself till I learn to love God. And I cannot love God except by learning to obey Him. So we are driven deeper to something more inward, driven from external matters to spiritual matters. For the longest way around is the shortest way home.1
Of course Lewis is right because he is echoing the Bible. The Lord says: Above all else, guard your heart (loving God), for everything you do flows from it.2 But let’s go back a step and look up to God as our Model and Example.
The Lord is Love and First Loved Us
Scripture says: Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love….We love Him because He first loved us.3 God is love. It is His nature, the core of His personality, to be giving and unselfish. Before anything was created, God the Father, God the Son, and God Holy Spirit acted lovingly toward each other forever. They didn’t just have warm feelings, the three persons of the Holy Trinity were doing good to each other, being family and friends to each other, being happy and contented with each other.
Then at some point, God the Father, Son, and Spirit created the heavens, the earth, and human beings. The Lord didn’t gain anything from this, He unselfishly acted to create us because of His loving heart. And He continues to watch over, care for, and communicate with us out of His unceasing love.
The Lord shows His kindness by giving us rain from heaven and crops in their seasons. He provides us with life and breath and everything else, feeding us and filling our hearts with joy.4 Any good thing we enjoy in life is God’s gift to us from His loving heart and hand!5 Isn’t that amazing? That motivates us to imitate the Lord and give away ourselves and our stuff to others.
God Saves Us Because He Loves Us
John 3:16 says: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. This is the best-known and most oft-quoted text in the whole Bible. It summarizes God’s relationship with human beings and His way of salvation. All around the world, this verse or just the reference “John 3:16” is displayed at sporting events, on bumper stickers, in graffiti, and elsewhere.
Here is God’s good news: Sinless Christ died for a sinful people and was raised from the grave to raise His believers to eternal life that begins now. Because of Jesus’ saving work, God says to every Christian:
- You are forgiven accepted in Christ.
- You are adopted and appreciated.
- You are born again and blessed.
- You are chosen, comforted, and counseled.
- You are heard, healed, and helped by God.
- You are loved with His everlasting love.
- And underneath you are His everlasting arms.
- You are reconciled, restored, refreshed, and rewarded in Jesus.
- You are a sinner saved by grace and a saint at the same time.
- You are a new person from inside out, valued, and victorious in Christ.
- Now go and show my love to the world by the way you behave toward others.
What God has done, is doing, and will do for His believers should win our love for Him and make us eager to obey Him. Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words.
Another Sampling of Christ’s Commands
One author counted over 1,600 commands in the New Testament, given by Jesus Himself or through His apostles (His appointed spokesmen). Don’t forget to keep Christ (the Person) connected to His precepts. That helps us follow Him out of love. Here are a few more of His commandments:
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.6
If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back to worship God.7
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.8
Be merciful (responsive, compassionate, tender) with other people, just as God your Father is merciful.9
Be ready (for Jesus’ second coming), because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.10
Putting it into Practice
Ask God to show you which of these commands (or others in the Bible) to focus on. What will you change today? What will you start doing or stop doing? Who will you show loving action to because the Lord first loved you? Who will you forgive or ask forgiveness from?
Jesus says: Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matt 5:16)
To be continued.
Notes (various translations): 1 Adapted from C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. 2 Prov 4:23. 3 1 John 4:8,19. 4 Acts 14:17, 17:25. 5 James 1:17. 6 Matt 5:12. 7 Matt 5:24. 8 Matt 10:16. 9 Luke 6:36. 10 Matt 24:44.