Maybe you’ve said this to someone. Maybe someone has said it to you. “If you love me…”
Go ahead. Fill in the blank. How would you have finished that line when speaking to someone? How would someone else have finished that line when speaking to you?
God’s love for us is not conditional. It can’t be. Because the condition of God – the essence of God’s very nature – is love.
God is love. – 1 John 4:8, 16
God does ask us, however, to show our love and live out our love for Him by obeying His commands. And even in this, our Lord does not leave us alone. Our God never requires anything of us for which He will not also supply the help and the power we need to accomplish it. We just have to ask for His help – which we desperately and honestly need, even on our easiest of days, whether we acknowledge this truth or not! Our God gives us His omnipresent Holy Spirit to lovingly and truthfully lead us, to counsel us and empower us to obey our God.
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate [Counselor] to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.” – John 14:15-17
Jesus is finishing the line, “If you love me…” far differently than many of us would with our loved ones. We often expect our loved ones to figure out, all on their own, what we want or need in order to feel loved. You know, if you really loved me…you would just know what would be special or important to me…you would just know what would be significant and memorable for me… you would just know what would make me feel loved. If you really loved me…you should darn-well-better be able to figure out just how I need you to show me! I certainly shouldn’t have to tell you! Apparently, knowing – and then, of course, doing – what would be most loving, special, important or significant for our loved ones, without ever being clearly told what that is, really says, “I love you” to the people in our lives. Really?
As a counselor of individuals, couples and families, may I just say that this is immature, egocentric and totally ridiculous thinking? Was that blunt enough? And! Let me also say that I’ve been personally guilty of this same kind of thinking myself.
Full of grace and truth, Jesus speaks to us clearly and honestly. No games. No manipulation. Jesus just tells us directly how He wants us to show our love for Him: Keep My commands. Even as Jesus tells us how to show our love for Him, He lets us know that He will give us everything we need to accomplish this. Our Holy God fills us with His very Presence through the giving of the Wonderful Counselor, the Spirit of truth, to live in us and be with us forever. Our God loves us so much that He never leaves us. Nor does God expect us to have the power or the knowledge on our own to love Him perfectly. Giving us His Holy Spirit to empower us to love and obey Him more fully is really God’s way of fully loving us.
God has given us His life and His Spirit to show His love for us. Let’s give our Lord Jesus back some love, just the way He likes it: Let’s choose to intimately know and tenaciously keep His loving, truth-filled, life-transforming commands!