Love, Obedience, and Our New Normal

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me, and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.”  Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that you are going to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?”  Jesus answered and said to him, “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.  He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent Me” (Jn 14:21-24).

Jesus again visits the vital link between our love for Jesus and our keeping His commandments; the vital link between love and obedience.  But it appears that Jesus has extended that connection to suggest that God’s love toward us and revealing Himself to us and coming to abide with us depends on our keeping the love and obedience fires burning.  Is that what is required?

Let’s be careful not to let our experience in the world color our belief in what God says.  So much of our cultural interactions are based on transactional relationships; I will do X for you if you will do Y for me.  And at first glance, these verses seem to imply this kind of relationship with our Father such that “If we obey God, He will love us more.”  But we know from the rest of Scripture that a transactional relationship with God is exactly what we DON’T have.  We have a union based on grace, not on our actions.  We have a relationship based on what Christ did for us on the cross, not what we did for Him to gain His approval.

We always see distinctions and “what ifs” around the topic of obedience or lack of obedience and how God responds to us accordingly.  But I think when we do this, we are forgetting “whose” and “who” we are.  As a child of God, Christ now lives in us, living His life through us.  And He is the reservoir of divine love that we have the beautiful opportunity to put into practice.  And He is the reservoir of divine power that sends us on the path to obedience.  Our love and obedience are dependent on Jesus, because He is the source of them.  Our role is to tap into what Christ has already provided.

Because of our new righteous identity in Christ, loving, obeying, and abiding is what our new heart was made to do.  It is our new normal.  Rather than worrying about if we are doing enough for God to be pleased with us; for God to abide with us – as He promises in verse 23 above -, we can rest in the promise that He will always dwell with us.  We learned this very thing in our last post.

So is this path to love and obedience just automatic?  Have we arrived at everywhere we need to be by our new identity in Christ?  No … our enemy within (the Flesh) and our enemy without (Satan) conspire to take us away from what should be our new normal; our new life we were made to walk in.  But praise be to Christ who has given us the power of His presence to overcome the flesh and the evil one.  “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (I Jn 4:4).