“If you love me, obey my commandments.” – Jesus (John 14:15)
Imagine your best friend saying that to you. I’m serious: close your eyes and picture whoever that may be.
“If you love me, obey what I command you to do.”
Doesn’t that sound harsh? Doesn’t that sound manipulative? It sure sounds like it. We’ve all heard the glorious message: we’re saved by grace through faith and not by our works—but does it end there? Is grace just an ineffective contract, one that miscarriages change and hope and justice and love? I don’t think so. Because, matter-o-factually, faith expresses itself through love. (Galatians 5:6)
Now, most churches in the past haven’t done a good job at explaining the whole works vs grace thing, so I’m going to take a jab at simplifying it and reiterating what Jesus said.
First: what Jesus didn’t say.
Jesus didn’t say: If you obey my commands, then you love me. That’s works mentality. Legalism. Bad. No.
Jesus didn’t say: If you love me, you don’t have to obey my commandments. That’s abusing grace. That’s hypocritical. Also bad. Also . . . No.
Now, back to what Jesus did say.
If you love me, you will obey my commandments. This here, folks, I think messes with us. Jesus just takes love, something we so often limit to simply words and feelings, and fuses it together with action, something we’ve come to view as mechanical and void of sincerity.
But guess what? Jesus calls out to redeem our minds from that kind of dualistic thinking. Now, Love and Action are the cutest couple in town. They go together so well.
Our love initiates our actions, and our actions validate our love.
It’s an endless and beautiful relationship.