“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me'” (John 14:23-24).
Continued from Jesus Who?—Taking Up My Cross.
So much chatter this month about who Jesus loves, and I agree with the meme pictured below that Jesus loves Democrats, Republicans, gays, blacks, Muslims, Asians, the person you’re mad at, your waitress/waiter, the homeless, your ex, atheists, addicts, and our immigrant neighbors. In fact, Jesus even loves white nationalists, rapists, pedophiles, those who mistreat animals, corrupt politicians, terrorists, and men that beat their wives and children. But the million dollar question is whether or not we love Jesus. Ultimately, our willingness to love and forgive one another is the result of whether or not we love Jesus, and our obedience bears witness to our love. “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17).
Right after Jesus shared this revelation with His followers, one of them asked Jesus if He intended to reveal Himself to them and not to the world; the disciple couldn’t have understood then the manifestation to come. “Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me'” (John 14:23-24). The Father loves those who are willing to obey His Son without questions or reservations, while those who do not love Him, consequently, do not keep His commands. Refusal of the words of the Son is likewise a refusal of those of the Father. Jesus tells His followers that both Father and Son draw especially near to loving and obedient hearts. Jesus reassures them, “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:25-27).
A problem is that so many, among the children of God, sharply disagree on even basic, elementary tenants of His teachings, let alone grasp deeper knowledge. For example, some Christians are up in arms that some churches ordain gay ministers, and perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, yet many of the same believers don’t bat an eye at promiscuity (between a man and a woman, of course), divorce, greediness, and selfish ambition. I mean, Jesus was pretty clear about greed, and repeatedly warned of the dangers of wealth, yet question a Christian about material excess, and you may end up getting yourself stoned. Criticize selfish ambition, usually put simply as ambition, in the presence of a brother or sister, and you’re likely to be accused of being un-American or worse. The kingdom of darkness is advancing, from all sides, the left as well as the right, and too many of us have been its unwitting accomplices. Perhaps, we should heed the apostle Paul’s instruction and get our own house in order and leave passing judgement on the world to God (1 Corinthians 5:12-13). Much like the Corinthians, I believe the time is past due for the church to acknowledge our genuine sorrow and humiliation followed by continual prayer for our spiritual restoration. God’s promise to the ones who came before is every bit as true for us today: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
The scripture considered in this post is full of any number of other revelations and wonderful truths worth exploring, but I have written what I believe the Holy Spirit has guided me to write.
Keep in mind Jesus’ acknowledgement that the world cannot accept Him; that should be sobering for those of us who profess to follow Him. The way to heaven is a narrow way to all, and Christ, alone, is that way. I don’t believe we do anyone any favors by representing the grace of our Lord with broad gate appeal; that way may seem practical, rational, inclusive, and compassionate, but Jesus was clear that the broad gate leads to destruction. On the other hand, it would be cruel to crush a believer underfoot whose faith is weak, or even worse, stumble someone who doesn’t have the benefit of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I don’t recall anywhere in scripture where Jesus minced words, but I am absolutely convinced that He measured each and every one carefully, and so should we. Therefore, don’t mistake this post as me taking a cheap shot at Pride Month. In fact, despite all the criticism I am surely to receive, for side-stepping the issue, I do so purposefully and without apology. I have no doubt that the time is coming for me to address the subject more directly, among any number of others, but that time has not yet arrived. In the meantime, let the love of the bride for the bridegroom be made evident. Dust off your bible and give it a good read, especially the parts that convict you. We don’t get to make it up ourselves as we go along. Until next time!
Since I am sharing social media memes today, I thought I’d also share the one pictured below. I captioned my post: “If you were as lost as I was, then you’d praise Him too.” A true story.
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