gratitude & hoopla: Love > Obedience > Revelation

gratitude & hoopla

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

8.10.05

Love > Obedience > Revelation

Love is a great mystery. If we are honest, we have to confess that we are not particularly lovable. And we have to admit also that we are not particularly good at loving others. We do not love God with our whole hearts, nor do we love others as ourselves. Love is a problem we have trouble solving. It is the human dilemma at the root of all other dilemmas.

In the 14th chapter of the Gospel of John, we read this: "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

All that talk of love kind of gives me a warm feeling, but did Jesus have to mar the picture with that dreadful word, "obey"? It's certainly not a winsome word. It smacks of legalism, of religious forced marches, of holier-than-thou pulpit thumpers. Yet Jesus, the lover of our souls, connects obedience inexorably with love. Obedience is all about loving.

"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."

Amazing, no? What a promise! He loves us. Then we, filled with astonished gratitude at such an absolutely surreal boon, stumble toward the obedience of love. Lord, we cry, I love you. Help thou my lack of love!

And he does it. He equips us to love. Oh, even at the best of times our desire far exceeds our ability, but there is a new element in the equation now. Didn't you hear him tell you, "We will come to you and make our home in you."

And this is the essence of life "in Him". Loving Him--however haltingly, inconstantly--we yearn to obey him by loving Him yet more and by loving others. Sure, we stumble badly and it breaks our hearts. But then He responds by gratiously showing us yet more of Himself. More of His lover, His mercy, His grace. Drawing us near. Putting His Spirit in us. Planting His awesome gift of the Abba cry at the very core of our being.

Christians, I hate to get all saccharine and simplistic here, but it just happens to be true that anything good begins and ends in the love of God. Here's how the Apostle John puts it in his first epistle:
This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
We're getting to the heart of the matter now. It is by faith that we overcome the world. We overcome the world's tendencies in us. We overcome the world's lovelessness. We overcome the persistent power of the flesh. Let's just sum it all up this way: God loved us. Jesus, the son of God, went to the Cross in order to prepare a place for us with Him in eternity. And this is real love, love abounding, love beyond measure, because it opens away for true communion with the Father and the Son.

And now that you, Christian, have by faith received Him and trusted Him and responded to Him in awe and gratitude and wonder and, yes, in love, He will reveal yet more of Himself to you. He will live in you. He will progressively transform your heart and renew your mind. He will give you his eyes, which always see the world as lost and hurting and foundering, and he will bid you love it as He loves it. This is the generous and abounding nature of the love with which he loves you, Christian.

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