This is Love...
This is Love...
1 John 2:4-6
1 John 5:2-5
The word “obedience” (to obey) has largely been erased in our culture. We don’t like the idea of “obeying” do we?
Our dislike for obedience, is even reflected in our language… the way we speak. The vernacular we use everyday. And what I mean is… how many of us have actually used the word “obedience” in a conversation this week? Raise your hand! See. It’s becoming an obsolete word.
I actually googled the word “obedience” just for fun! And because I’m always searching the inter-webs for scripture lessons and online commentaries… About half of my search results were related to the Bible… Which tells you right away… No one is reading or listening to any of that. The vast majority of our society today is unchurched, whether they’re technically church members or not. They don’t generally care about what the Bible says… And they certainly are not thinking about it.
Of course, the other half of my search results… Were centered around dog training. And even then, notice it’s referred to as “dog training” - not obedience. We don’t even like the word obedience when talking about our dogs!
We despise the concept of obedience! Watch any child.. yes, I know yours are perfect little angels… BUT all the rest of them buck at obedience… Kicking and screaming at times, right? Just. Like. Us.
Most of us obey, kicking in screaming, because for most of us, obedience has to do with, control. And we rebuff control, don’t we?
But God‘s word associates a very different concept with obedience: love. Specifically, our love of God.
A couple of weeks ago, we talked about God’s love for us… as demonstrated in Christ, and his willingness to die for you and for me. The fact that Christ died for us, “while we were yet sinners” proved God‘s love for us. An everlasting love, that nothing in this world, or the next, could ever sever.
But today John tells us, or reminds us, “this is love for God: to obey his commands.“
You know the fact is, it’s simply not enough to say, I love you. We say, “I love you…” concerning all kinds of things! I love pizza… I love barbecue ribs… I love when my favorite team plays well, and I love it even more when they win!
We throw the word love around like a foul ball in the cheap seats. In fact, I’d argue that we use the word “love” so much… That it has lost most of its meaning. It’s mainly devoid of meaning. It’s lost its ability to convey a unique feeling or an expression of sincerity.
And if you don’t believe me, then just try telling your spouse that you love them, and that’s it. Of Course telling is good… We need to do that for sure. But if you only say, “I love you”… And that “love” isn’t backed up by action, by the things we actually do… then the words ring hollow. Right?
In other words, if you tell someone, “I love you“… But you treat them like hell, where is the love? There’s no evidence. There’s no proof. That you actually love unless you show love. Love is always an action. It’s a verb.
That’s why God‘s Word says… Clearly… “Love for God is to obey his commands.” It’s necessary to live-out our love and devotion.
Is the very idea that Jesus was trying to convey to Peter after the resurrection… And before Christ ascended into heaven.
“Do you love me, Peter?” Yes. Then feed my sheep! Then do what I have commanded or called you to do. Show me that you love me by your actions.
We like to tell ourselves that obedience is a burden. That it’s too heavy. That it’s more than we could ever hope to accomplish. But God himself has removed that excuse from us, by giving us faith. Faith, that’s empowered by the Holy Spirit within us. That very spirit that enables us to show our love for God, by our actions/our deeds.
I’d go so far as to say that obeying God‘s word is the opposite of burdensome - it revives the soul. It puts us in a proper place in our relationship with God. Firmly establishing him as the head, the authority, the foundation, of our lives.
Jesus even said, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28–30
Obedience to God is not burdensome. God never, ever, forces himself on any of us. He call us to “come” to him! Obedience to God‘s Word is voluntary. We’re afforded the opportunity to choose whether or not we will follow Christ. John Calvin said, "No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men: neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief." John Calvin
God knows who will choose follow him… It’s part of his sovereign nature. He knows all, every thought, every intention, every deed, before any of it ever takes place. But he loves us so much that he gives us the ability to choose: he offers us the choice, to receive, his love and mercy and salvation. He never forces his commands on any of us.
And that’s why the proof of our love for God, is shown through our willingness to obey.
Every time we forgive the unforgivable, we obey... and we prove our love for God.
Every time we go the extra, un-required mile, we obey... and we prove our love for God.
Every time we “do unto others as we’d have them do unto us...” Every time we speak the Truth, in love... Every time we clothe the naked, feed the hungry, care for the sick and imprisoned, we prove our love for God.
When we love God... when we truly love Christ... we will live our lives in devotion to him. And that proves our love for him...
“This is how we KNOW that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commandments. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome...”
For this is the word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God, Amen.