“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 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 15.9, 10What does it mean to keep Jesus’ commandments and therefore abide in His Love? I think this is a worthy question that welcomes our thoughts as this new year is upon us.
There are two statements I read this morning; one of them weighs heavy on my heart each time I run across it.
“There ought to be a term that would designate those who actually follow the teachings of Jesus, since the word ‘Christian’ has been largely divorced from those teachings, and so polluted by fundamentalists that it has come to connote their polar opposite: intolerance, vindictive hatred, and bigotry.”—Philip Stater, Huffington Post
“If it weren’t for Christians, I’d be a Christian.” —Mahatma Gandhi
Jesus said in John 15 that if we truly keep His commandments, we will abide in His Love. This must mean that His commandments and the life of Love are intrinsically connected. Honestly, this is truly a no-brainer. So many times it is repeated in scripture:
Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is similar: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself. On these two commandments the whole Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets are based.” —Matthew 22.37-40
“Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” —Romans 13.10
For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” —Galatians 5.14
And yet I can hear some right now asking the important question, “Yes, but what about truth? Does this mean we sacrifice truth in order to be loving?” But this question itself reveals how deeply we have misunderstood the work God came to begin on this tiny planet.
“No eloquence of words, no force of argument, can convert the sinner.” —Acts of the Apostles, p. 239
“Christ came into the world to bring all resistance and authority into subjection to Himself, but He did not claim obedience through the strength of argument or the voice of command; He went about doing good and teaching His followers the things which belonged to their peace.” —Testimonies to the Church, Vol. 4, p. 139
“Do not once forget that you are speaking for God’s truth. Your spirit, if kept gentle under provocation, will speak louder than any force of argument. Do not imperil the truth by an unwise word.” —Letter 9a, 1894, pp. 2, 4
“Love will do that which argument will fail to accomplish. Love is power.” —Review and Herald; April 26, 1887
When we care more about being right than being righteous, when we care more about being correct than being Godly, or God-like, when we are concerned about proving Biblical facts more than the heart of the one we are trying to reach, it is then that we need simply to remain silent until the spirit of Heaven once again can grace our efforts.
Happy New Year from all of us here at Renewed Heart Ministries.