Love and Obedience
Preface: Even amid spiritual adultery and divine judgment, God’s love for His people never wavers.
Asked about the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus replied briefly but very clearly “Love the Lord” (Matt. 22:37). Only three words, which contain the sense of the whole law. It seems to be so simple: Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 6:5.
In relationships between humans love is one of the main sources of inspiration and motivation. It has the power to help us see everything in a different light. It changes the point of view and makes the impossible seem easily done. In our relation to God, love is the most important element. Everything that God has done for us would have been impossible without love. Everything that we are trying to do without love doesn’t make much sense. Only when we open our hearts and accept God’s illimitable love can we be capable of reflecting that love to others and of accomplishing all the other commandments. It is all a response to that love.
Abiding in obedience and in the love of Christ cannot be separated. Obedience produces fellowship and nearness that could never be produced by all the zeal in the world. Someone has said that obedience is the key that unlocks the door to the indwelling Christ. Obedience is the test of whether we have faith in Jesus. “ ‘By their fruits you will know them’ ” (Matt. 7:20, NKJV).
A favorite song goes like this: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” We have our Savior’s example. He was obedient to His Father’s commandment, and He abode in His love. Jesus said, “ ‘If you love Me, keep My commandments’ ” (John 14:15, NKJV). Everything goes back to love.
Jesus wants us not only to love Him but to remain in His love. There are many relationships nowadays that end. And it’s not so easy for a friendship to remain unchanged and as strong as it was in the beginning.
It has become difficult for a relationship to remain strong. But Jesus offers us a solution: “ ‘If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love’ ” (John 15:10, NKJV). This looks a bit strange at first glance. Obey His commands. How can this help us remain in love with Him? In all relations between business partners there are certain laws to be considered. In the relations between a man and a woman there are also principles, without which a relationship would be unthinkable. Nothing works without laws. In order to remain in a living and loving relationship with God, we also need to obey His commands. “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3, NKJV).
Although there is a common understanding that the God of the Old Testament is despotic in His requirements of man in contrast to the notion of a New Testament loving God, the biblical reality and the historical facts are quite different. On every page of the holy history of the Old Testament, we find again the God of the New Testament—the God of love. As such He reveals Himself in the most significant record, disclosing His will and moral principles, “showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exod. 20:6, NKJV). This idea is included in the sermon of Moses in the book of Deuteronomy: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (6:5, NKJV). As in antiquity and so today, the full value relationship between God and humanity is based on unselfish, pure, and sacred love. Only it can bring our thoughts, feelings, and will under control. Then life is fulfilled and the spiritual experience complete.
Mariela Grozdev, Sofia, Bulgaria