Monday, February 25, 2013

If you love me...

In John 14, Jesus promises that His followers will do even greater works than He did.  That is literally impossible and unbelievable.  There is some debate as to what "greater works" really refers to, and it could be a few different things.  What's amazing to me is what makes the impossible possible.  It seems to be loving Jesus back.

John's Gospel is very clear on love being God's motivation for sending Jesus to the world.  Jesus' love for the people entrusted to His care was clear in how he carried Himself.  It's also clear that Jesus charged His followers with loving each other.  He said, " one another: just as I have loved you..."    (John 13). We've been told a million times that God loves us. That's not a surprise.  We also know that we're expected to love each other.  However, Jesus breaks some new ground in 14:15 when He says, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."  

God's love for us and His subsequent command to love other people doesn't guarantee that we're responding appropriately to Him.  It doesn't even mean that we're a Christian. The most important thing about our response is that we love Him back.  He shows us here that loving Him back means thinking highly enough of what He has instructed to actually do what He has asked.  To use language from James, being doers of the word is what demonstrates that we love Jesus back.  It shows that we are serious about faith.  It shows that we're about more than religious activity.  It shows that we're willing to following Jesus.  

The next part is the key to the impossible.  Obedience to the commandments of Jesus is met with a gift.   Jesus promises to give His Spirit to those who love Him and keep His commandments.  Without the Spirit, Christianity is just a bunch of rules, aspirations, hopes, religious habits, and behaviors.  With the Spirit, it is freedom, life, light, power, miracles, cleansing from sin, truth, assurance, salvation, eternal life, and so much, much more.  I pray that it's not enough for us to just believe that Jesus loves us and to do our best to love each other.  I pray that we would go the next step and love Him back by obeying His commandments and unlocking the power of the Spirit in our every day lives.

Here are some examples of the power that the gift of the Spirit unlocks in us:

  • The Spirit Gives Life. (John 3:6-7, John 6:63)
  • The Spirit Empowered Jesus. (John 1:32 - on Jesus, Luke 4:18 - Spirit is Upon me)
  • The Spirit Empowers followers of Jesus for ministry.  The Spirit manifests the presence of God through his activity. (Acts 1:8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11)
  • The Spirit Empowers prayer. (Romans 8:26)
  • The Spirit cleanses us from sin. (1 Corinthians 6:11)
  • The Spirit sanctifies us and builds in us the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • The Spirit guides us into truth. (John 16:13)
  • The Spirit testifies to our status before God and gives us assurance. (Romans 8:15-16)
  • The Spirit brings unity. (Ephesians 4:3)

Thank you, Jesus, for not leaving us on our own and for giving us this amazing gift that allows us to follow you and do the works that you did.  

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