“He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will disclose myself to him.” -Jesus
For some reason (I think fear), Christianity seems obsessed with behavior, particularly with avoiding what it sees as bad behavior. Is this reflective of the desires of God’s heart? Is God’s ultimate goal to have a world of well-behaved people? I say it’s not nearly that shallow. I think what God is after is love. I want to look closer at what love is and how Jesus said it fits into relationship with he and his Father.
In John 14, Jesus says that if someone loves him, they will keep his commandments (v. 15) and his word (v.23). This basically means they will pursue relationship with him (his word) and honor him as Lord (his commandments). He also says that the one who keeps (present-tense) his commandments loves him. The word “keep” in Greek has the idea of guarding, attending to, and preserving. So it’s not merely doing his word, it’s cherishing it. You can try to obey Jesus’ statements in the Bible without loving him. But you can’t “keep” his word in the true sense of seeking and cherishing it without love.
I see a cycle: love produces a cherishing of his commandments/word, and cherishing his commandments/word demonstrates love. This cycle is energized by love and produces love. Love is the foundational requirement, the qualification for truly knowing Jesus, because Jesus reveals himself only to those who love him, as the verse at the top shows. If he doesn’t reveal himself, you can’t know him.
I believe an essential component of love could be called “selfless pursuit.” Love in a relationship is shown in pursuit of the other in every good sense, without any selfish focus. If you love and cherish something, you will seek it and think of it constantly. Thrill seekers love adrenaline rushes, pursuing and thinking of them constantly. According to Jesus, those who love him will similarly seek to hear and keep his words, because they love him and he is their Lord.
Jesus knew that it would be difficult to learn to hear his voice and to keep his words, so he warned us ahead of time that it would be very hard and costly in many ways. But he gave us a wonderful promise in John 14:23: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” For those who love Jesus and his Father, that is worth any price.
Examine yourself, as I am examining myself. If we don’t cherish and seek to obey Jesus’ words, we don’t love him. And if we don’t love him, we won’t be seeking him. What a profound idea, which I probably barely scratched the surface of!
God bless you.