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Friday, June 3, 2016

Obeying God Out of Love, Not Fear

In review of John 15:14 it says, “You are my friends if you do what I command”

Bottom Line:
We are His friends, if we obey Him

What this means to me:
To become a close friend with God, I must do what he commands me.

Today's' passage comes from the first part of John chapter 15 where John is explaining how Jesus is the True Vine and God is the gardener. John explains that God will cut off every branch that doesn't produce fruit, and prune the branches that do, so the will produce even more. If we remain in Christ, He will remain in us. As we remain in Him, we can ask for anything and He will help us achieve it. We are then told to love each other in the same way He loves us. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends. We are his friends if we do what He commands or asks us.

So Jesus said in John 15:14, “You are my friends if you do what I command” (NLT).

I can’t say I love Jesus and then go live worldly. I can’t say I’m a Christian and then keep on living a self-centered life. I can’t say I’m a follower of Jesus and then pick and choose the verses that I want to listen to and ignore the ones I don’t. Jesus says I’m his friend if I obey him and all his commandments.

Nonbelievers likely get obeying God wrong. They say, “I don’t want to be a Christian because I don’t want to obey God. You believers obey him out of guilt or fear or obligation, and I don’t want that for my life.”

However what I’ve learned is that we obey God because he loves me! He wants the best for me. He loves me like nobody else will ever love me. The Bible says the only reason there’s love in the world is because God is love. So I don’t obey God out of fear or guilt or obligation. I obey God out of love, because he loved and saved me.

I think there is a general tendency to think being a Christian or disciple of Jesus means we are restricted and not able to do any of the fun stuff the world partakes in.  However, the reality is that we can still do anything we want to.  The difference is we find in our heart that we don’t want to do those things now.  They may look like freedom, but they don’t last, and they lead to despair, not dignity; depression, not delight.

Prior to today’s verse, John 15:9-11 says, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me ... When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

I truly believe that God doesn’t want me to obey him because I’m afraid of him. He doesn’t want me to obey him because I’m scared of punishment. Rather God wants me to obey him because of love. It’s his love that leads to true joy.