Abiding in Love and Keeping Commands

I just had an awesome weekend near Palmer, Alaska with some wonderfully fun believers on a marvelous journey. I wish I had time to tell you about the North American Funsucker and those brothers and sisters going through their Pharisectomies. I wish I could show you the view out my window from the home I stayed in on the shore of a lake with mountains in the background. (I’ll try to put a picture up when I get home and have my cable to download the photos.)

Many of these have connected with me through the podcasts. I’ve had a ball. Now I’m in Anchorage for the day and fly out on a red-eye tonight. So, think of me when you put your head on a pillow tonight… I’ll be coveting a more horizontal sleep configuration.

Yesterday I got this email and know it is a question many others have as well. It fit in so well with so many things we’ve all been talking about this weekend:

I’ve been enjoying listening to the Transitions teachings and over the last couple of days have been pondering the parable of the prodigal son. The things you said strike a chord in my heart and it’s what I really believe about God, but I was reading John 15 and came to verse 10 (“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…) and was wondering what your thoughts on it were. Sounds a bit conditional, doesn’t it? Some versions actually say, “If you keep my commandments. I will keep loving you.” Could this just be one of those translation leanings, do you think? I did read the Amplified Bible which said something about “remaining in the intimacy of my love” which I thought perhaps made a bit of a difference. Is that the sense of “abide”? Not that God doesn’t continue to love even if someone isn’t keeping his commandments, but that those who do enjoy a greater intimacy with him?

Yes, on first read it does sound conditional. But in the context of the entire upper room discourse (John 13-16) and John 15 itself, we know that’s not what he’s saying. He’s not saying we earn his love by keeping commandments. That goes against everything else he’s been saying in this passage.

So, what could it mean? I think the context gives us the answer. He’s inviting us to remain in the love he’s already given us. He made the disciples clean by his word and asks them to simply remain in him. So they didn’t earn their place there and neither do we. But what Jesus is saying about obeying his commands, is that we live in the reality and fruitfulness of his love by following his ways. So it doesn’t mean he loves us more, it just means we live in the fruit of that love by following him. So if I’m in a situation and Jesus gives me wisdom as to how to deal with it, but I refuse that wisdom and do what I think is best, I’m going to end up in a bigger mess. He will still love me the same, still offer me the same relationship, but I will not live in the fruit of that love because I’ve gone my own way.

It’s just the prodigal story. The son goes his own way and by doing so doesn’t live in the Father’s love, even though the Father still loves him completely and the same offer of relationship is always there. He’s just not living in its reality because he has chosen his way over the Father’s way. But his rebellion works its own way in him until he comes to see the love the Father always had for him.

So keeping his commandments doesn’t earn us more relationship, it just allows us to live in the fruit of his love. And that command remember, is not following a list of rules, but living loved—experiencing his love for us and then loving others around us the same way. It really isn’t rocket science. It’s so much easier and more freeing than that.

Two more meetings today, then I’m off to the airport…

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4 Comments
  1. Bill May 21, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    I am going through your book, “He Loves Me,” with a friend of mine via e-mail, since he lives in Florida and I’m in the UK. One of the amazing things about the Gospel of Luke and his sequel, the Book of Acts, is the near-exclusive use of a phrase describing how the message of Jesus Christ was communicated in those days: the Greek word could literally be translated “declare the good news” which, of course, is the meaning of the word “Gospel,” isn’t it? Everywhere they took the message, it was communicated as “Good News” rather than “Bad News,” like so many of our well-meaning brethren would rather spin it.

    My wife and I are looking forward to seeing you in Ireland soon! Hope you have a safe journey!!

  2. Bill May 21, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    I am going through your book, “He Loves Me,” with a friend of mine via e-mail, since he lives in Florida and I’m in the UK. One of the amazing things about the Gospel of Luke and his sequel, the Book of Acts, is the near-exclusive use of a phrase describing how the message of Jesus Christ was communicated in those days: the Greek word could literally be translated “declare the good news” which, of course, is the meaning of the word “Gospel,” isn’t it? Everywhere they took the message, it was communicated as “Good News” rather than “Bad News,” like so many of our well-meaning brethren would rather spin it.

    My wife and I are looking forward to seeing you in Ireland soon! Hope you have a safe journey!!

  3. Richard May 21, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    Wayne,

    Wonderful hearing how Father is drawing his own unto Himself.
    Enjoy your last couple of get together, and a safe flight home.

    The passage in John is cool, but what I see is more clearly defined in Phil. where its made known that it is Him, his life in us as us that works, not only to will, but to do His will.

    If you ever have the chance to read a wonderful little book, but powerful, The Making of a Son, by Warren Litzman…it is all about the Luke 15, in how we are in a heart beat made his child, but as the story unfolds, it goes into the making of a fully mature (grown son).

    Richard

  4. Richard May 21, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    Wayne,

    Wonderful hearing how Father is drawing his own unto Himself.
    Enjoy your last couple of get together, and a safe flight home.

    The passage in John is cool, but what I see is more clearly defined in Phil. where its made known that it is Him, his life in us as us that works, not only to will, but to do His will.

    If you ever have the chance to read a wonderful little book, but powerful, The Making of a Son, by Warren Litzman…it is all about the Luke 15, in how we are in a heart beat made his child, but as the story unfolds, it goes into the making of a fully mature (grown son).

    Richard

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