John 14:15 “If you love me you will keep my commandments.”
In 2004 I made my prodigal return. In the season before that time God, to me, was distant, detached, sterile and very godfather like. I saw Him as a judge and ticket taker for the great banquet. Jesus was a total mystery to me also. God and man in one? He was “the Son who died for my sin so I could get to heaven if I made sure I obeyed all His commandments and begged for forgiveness when I messed up.” Even then it was up to Him to determine if I had met the minimum criterion. Sorry you had to endure that but background is important.
in 2004 Jesus became very real to me. I had finally come to the end of myself and had no place to turn. God in His amazing love was there to catch me, pick me up and love on me in a way I didn’t think was possible. I didn’t know it at the time, but the true Gospel of Grace was seeping into my soul. Wow, God is good. I was still stuck in my human wisdom and religious thinking but God was beginning to transform my mind. During this time I discovered gum wrappers.
There was a place, maybe a parking lot or maybe on a walk in the desert, not sure really but I remember the gum wrapper. There it was laying there on the ground. In this moment I saw the gum wrapper differently. It didn’t belong there! So I picked it up and put it in my pocket. It felt really good to pick it up. I may have missed many others. I certainly didn’t get out a trash bag and begin a city-wide gum wrapper hunt. But in that moment it felt so good to do the right thing. I know now it was because I was very aware of how much Jesus loved me and I loved Him. I had some awesome one-on-one time that day or something like that but I “felt full of Jesus” if you know what I mean.
Now nearly 10 years later I am still finding gum wrappers and SO much more. Every time I grab one of those misplaced objects of neglect, I put it in the pocket and take good care of it. I find the more I am aware of God’s love, the more gum wrappers seem to appear out of nowhere. Maybe it is a conspiracy?
So I really believe John 14:15 (and so many other similar references) is finding a gum wrapper. Out of our love for Him, which comes from His love for us, we want to keep, or protect, or guard, or engage in the stuff that is important to God. It is a fruit not a conditional. Some will teach that we have to prove our love by obeying. That’s nuts, really. In our selfish carnal self we suck at love and are very rebellious to direction or orders. That is the whole reason for Jesus to live as a man, die and be resurrected. His life in and through us frees us from being the selfish people we used to be. Don’t believe me? How about when you get angry at someone? Do you stop for a gum wrapper?
I still cringe sometimes when I hear teaching on obedience. You know the word obey is very seldom used in the KJV NT? I think the word keep or cherish is better, but if you must stick with obey, remember this:
Jesus sets us free from self. In that place, free of the self, we can easily obey because it is our new nature in Him . Our reluctance to obey is born of self and desire for control. We also have an enemy-planted perception of internal inadequacy which, when living independent of Him and still filled with self, is true inadequacy. When the three come together, selfish + control issues + feelings of inadequacy (sprinkle on some pride for good measure) it forms the rebellion response based on an insecure, excuse-making wisdom of carnal independence. When Adam apple-eating self-awareness (or our fear of nakedness) is surrendered our dependent surrendered-to-Jesus-life-man wants to and easily accomplishes any desire of the divine in a natural way just like breathing. It is no longer an act of will to subdue self unto obedience but obedience becomes a fruit of a surrendered self. All believers want to do the will of God but they have an innate sense that in the flesh (or from the selfish being) they are not capable. A complete trust in God from a completely surrendered and self-acknowledged impotent vessel (you/me) will produce divinely inspired and empowered fruit supremely superior to any humanly crafted look-a-like.
1 John 3:24 All who keep His commandments [who obey His orders and follow His plan, live and continue to live, to stay and] abide in Him, and He in them. [They let Christ be a home to them and they are the home of Christ.] And by this we know and understand and have the proof that He [really] lives and makes His home in us: by the [Holy] Spirit Whom He has given us (AMP).