Obedience is an Invitation
Let me give you something to do. Or rather, not to do. Just think about what would happen if you did.
Starting tomorrow, tell everyone you know–coworkers, neighbors, friends, family–that from now on, your friendship and love toward them will depend on them doing what you say. Then let me know how it goes.
So, why would Jesus say something to us that would sound like that if we said it to other people? Why is Jesus’ statement not bossy or selfish when he says it? To see what I mean, look at what he says in John 14:21:
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me, and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.
So, why is it not only “ok”, but actually good and right for Jesus to say this to us?
The other day, I met with Jonny, a student I am discipling. I had us both write down our observations and questions as we looked at John 14:21 for a few minutes. Then, we discussed it together and had a great time! Here are just a few truths we talked about:
Jesus is the only one whose will for us is always good for us
We rightly shrink from bossy or self-centered people who are only happy with us when we please them. But if we think about why, it is because we cannot trust that they will always want what is best for us.
But with Christ, what he tells us to do is always for our good. So, to obey Jesus is to do what is the best thing in the world for us at every moment. But, that doesn’t always make it easy! And that’s where the next truth is so helpful!
Jesus himself lived out this verse
John 14:21 can seem like a rather strong statement to us. But I find it so humbling and exciting that Jesus made similar statements about his own relationship with his Father!
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again (John 10:17).
I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here (John 14:30-31).
Jesus showed his love for the Father by obeying him, even to the point of obediently dying on the cross.
What at first may seem like a strong or even harsh command in John 14:21 is not so. Actually, it is an invitation for us to join Christ in his life of obedience and love toward the Father. We are welcomed into the indwelling presence of Father, Son and Spirit with us as we love and obey Jesus.
May God help us see obedience to him as not simply something we must do, but as a pathway to deeper fellowship with Christ and his Family!
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