Heavenly Father, thank you for this time we have together. I thank You for the many blessings You’ve poured into my life, known and unknown, and praise You for the work you’ve begun in me. Quiet my mind and thoughts, that I can hear only You. Amen.
New International Version (NIV)
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
Jesus ties love directly with obedience in these verses. It’s a very clear cut statement. Obedience to Jesus’ teaching is so important that the Father’s love hinges on it.
How do I obey Jesus’ teaching? First I have to understand the teaching. I have to actually study and internalize it. In my life, studying and learning requires regular attention and action - it has to be done over and over again, on a regular basis - so that the studying becomes automatic action. We have been blessed with God’s Word written in the most popular book of all time, The Bible. Clearly, Jesus is telling the disciples to remember and internalize everything He had taught them. And, in case there was a smidgen of doubt about who He was, he reminded them that His Words are the very same as God the Father’s Words. They didn’t have the written Word of God as a reference – in some ways they had something better! They had a front row seat to Jesus’ life, His sermons and miracles.
He continues to say that if I don’t love Him, I won’t obey Him. The loving comes first. How do we love someone? We generally have to know something about them, have a relationship with them. Again, he reminds us from a different perspective that we must spend time with Him in order to love, and then be able to obey Him.
Jesus clearly asks more from us than just faith in Him; He asks obedience to His teachings. Does this mean that if we aren’t perfectly obedient that we have lost his love? No, that’s why Jesus didn’t leave his disciples with only His teaching. He conquered the evil one on the cross and with His resurrection, so that our imperfect faith and obedience would be just a piece of the puzzle of loving Him. We are saved BY GRACE through faith and obedience. And even better, we are loved, SO LOVED that He lives within us! How can we NOT strive for obedience? To be given the gift of the Creator’s love… what a prize!
Thinking over these verses reminded me of MercyMe’s song, “Greater”, “There'll be days I lose the battle, Grace says that it doesn't matter, 'Cause the cross already won the war, He's Greater, He's Greater, I am learning to run freely, Understanding just how He sees me, And it makes me love Him more and more, My God is greater (He's Greater, He's Greater), Than he who is living in the world”.
You can listen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdQ0vCGDGag
Dear Father, thank you for your love, thank you for your Son who set the example of obedience for us on this earth. Send your Holy Spirit to us so that we yearn for your teaching, to be obedient to it, and to feel and claim your love. We invite you to live in us. Amen.