In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome…
1 John 5:3 (NIV)
In today’s chapter, John states that loving God means keeping His commands.
Stop right there.
When I read “keeping His commands” what immediately, unconsciously sprang to mind in the twinkling of an eye were things like:
- Going to church.
- Giving 10% of your income to the church.
- Don’t [insert that most guilt producing behavior here].
- Stop [insert that nagging bad habit I know I should break].
Jesus said there were only two basic commands:
- Love God.
- Love others as you love yourself (btw, if I don’t love myself well in a healthy way, then I’m handicapped in both the loving God and loving others part.
Everything flows from love, and as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the flow originates from God, not from me. This is not a one-way relationship unless I choose not to love God back. The love is always, has always flowed towards me from God. I can ignore it. I can misinterpret it. I can twist it into something it’s not. I can deflect it. I can resist it. I can actively work against it. I can think about it endlessly, and even mentally acknowledge it is there.
It’s only when I receive it that something changes in me.
Along my spiritual journey, this is the one thing that I observe most people not understanding about being a follower of Jesus. I always think it’s about me “obeying His commands” in order to earn His love like a merit badge. I behave like God is miserly standing at His faucet of love ever determining how much love the Ol’ Miser is going to let flow out the spicket (from a limited supply) based on how good I’ve been. That’s often the way it works in human relational economics, I’m afraid. So, it’s easy for me to project that onto God. But, Jesus never taught that.
The love is always flowing to me from the unlimited source.
It’s only when I receive that it makes any difference.
In the quiet this morning, I remember Jesus’ criticism of the religious rule-keepers:
“Instead of giving you God’s Law [Remember: Love God, love others. -TVW] as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help.”Matthew 23:4-5 (MSG)
Then I hear Him say:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
When I received His invitation. Things began to change.
Along my spiritual journey, that’s the thing I have to continually remind myself. It’s not about me being good to earn a trickle of love. It’s about me learning to receive freely from the unlimited flow. It’s then that love changes me and directs the flow back to God, on to others.