“They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” vs. 21
John’s powerful and affirming words of love in this portion of his gospel have lifted the hearts of Christians for centuries. It just feels so good to know that Christ dwells in us and that love is the ultimate mark of God’s presence in our lives. These are words to share with those who feel unloved and disconnected from God. This is the good news of the gospel. Unfortunately believers have also used these words as a hammer and a wedge in their dealings with the world. They’ve given these words of love a wooden interpretation and tell the broken that God’s love is contingent on their behavior. “Unless you obey the commandments of scripture,” they say, “you will not be loved by the Father, and you will never know the Christ.” And then they proceed to outline all the rules of proper Christian behavior, and imply that obedience is the first step in any relationship with God. The reasoning is logical and airtight and has enabled the establishment of any number of exclusive faith communities. What they fail to consider is that our response to God is not the first step in the relationship. Everything begins with God’s universal love–and there are no strings attached. And where Jesus is concerned, there is only one commandment, that we love one another, for it is in loving that we know God.
Thought for the Day: What part does obedience play in the Christ life?