Love God V-How To 3

Have you ever sat down with a loved one and explained to them exactly how he or she should meet your relational needs? If that sounds strange it’s probably is because we have an innate fear that expressing our needs is selfish (it’s not). Or, we might be suffering from the Hollywood or romance novel syndrome. That’s the assumption that if my spouse or loved one, is really into me they will intuitively know what my needs are, without me ever uttering a single solitary word.
Although conversations about relational needs met may be rare or even uncomfortable, they are indispensable for healthy and growing relationships. I say that because over the years I have noticed that most of the issues that surface during counseling sessions revolve around a lack of communication regarding relational needs. Most people want their relationships to be satisfying, fulfilling, and successful but haven’t openly or honestly discussed how to make it so. And we all know what happens when relational needs aren’t met. Dysfunctions like frustration, anger, and resentment can settle in and damage the relationship, sometimes permanently. The irony: these can be easily avoided if we clearly communicate our relational expectations. For instance,
I need you to finish that “honey-do” list honey because acts of service are my main love language. I really need you to be more affectionate. I love it when we spend time together without distractions.
How Jesus Wants to Be Loved
How many do you know that Jesus was a clear communicator but he certainly wasn’t selfish? He certainly didn’t leave us in the dark as to what his main relational need was, particularly how he wanted us to love him. With crystal clarity, he tells us in John 14:15, “If you love me obey my commandments.” He then continued in John 14:21 “Those who obey my commandments are the ones who love me.
Pretty simple! Pretty clear! Pretty direct! Notice it’s not, “If you love me, just believe I exist.” Or, “If you love me, just accept me.” Or, “If you love me, just do your devotions.” No, it’s “If you love me I need you to do something very specific for me, and that’s to obey my commandments.”
Who said what to who now? At first blush, Jesus tying love and obedience together seems confusing. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we are, “Saved by grace through faith and not of works.” Now Jesus says that we must obey him which, quite frankly, is a lot of work. Is he saying that we are on the performance plan with him? That we are saved by obedience? What in tarnation does he mean? We’ve got to know because he gave us 49 direct commands so do we have to obey every one of them in order to be saved? Yes!
Obedience’s Bad Rap
Before we see the connection between love and obedience let’s just say that obedience gets a bad rap. “Obey” sounds so oppressive and authoritative. But that’s not the tone or nuance of it in Scripture. For instance, we have a family dog, an Australian Shepherd, named Crosby (by the cross), after the greatest hockey player on the planet, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Australian Shepherds are bred for high energy, high intelligence, and most of all, high will (stubbornness). They are not bred to be complaint or comfy lap dogs.
They can’t be. If a 1300-pound bull doesn’t want to move from one grazing place to another, the Australian’s inborn tenacity will keep him nipping at the bull’s heels until he moves, no matter how many hoofs the Aussie has to endure to the snout. When we got Crosby we were pretty much unaware of these characteristics, however. We got him because he was cute and his coloring was exquisite. However, we soon found out that we had a mammoth challenge on our hands.
So we need to continually teach him obedience and even once enrolled him in obedience school. Believe me, it’s continual labor of love and patience, but we keep obedience at the forefront because: (1) It makes him a better dog. (2) It protects him from danger. If he obeys us he won’t chase the ball or Geico squirrel into the busy intersection. (3) We love him. He’s a part of the family and love always wants what’s best for what it loves.
The Love – Obedience Connection
Now the connection between love and obedience is more natural than we might think. Obedience is not a condition of love for if it were it would contradict the Gospel of grace. However, hear me now and believe me later, obedience springs from love, and love motivates obedience. Let me illustrate with a couple of personal examples.
Growing up, my three sisters and I had chores to do. These chores included making our beds, doing dishes, washing cars, feeding animals, weeding the garden, taking out the garbage, and mowing the lawn, etc. Obviously, those chores were a chore, but every once-in-a-while I would add to them by cleaning out my dad’s garage and rearranging his toolshed. He never told me to do these things but I did them for two simple reasons, (1) They needed to be done, and (2) I loved my dad.
Likewise, when Lisa gives me her mile-long “honey-do” list, complete with detailed instructions and amazing specificity, I “chore” through it, sometimes, I confess, with grumbling and complaining, not to earn her love, I have that already, but because I love her, and it needs to be done.
Likewise, we obey Jesus because: (1) Doing so makes us better people. (2) Doing so protects us from danger. (3) Doing so demonstrates we love him. Obviously, we can obey out him of fear. I mean, ultimately there are consequences to disobeying the “King of kings and Lord of lords.” However, fear-based obedience neither glorifies him nor satisfies us and is not a recipe for long-term relationships.
To sum: we don’t obey Jesus out of works, fear, or even to get saved. We saved because we are madly in love with Jesus and obey him out of that same love. Obedience flows out of love while disobedience flows out of a lack of love. For instance, a husband and wife were having marital issues which, unfortunately, were being exacerbated by the wife’s extra-marital affair. She agreed to go to marital therapy but not to break-off the extra-marital relationship. Neither the therapist nor the husband could convince her that it was impossible to heal the marriage until she broke it off with the other person. “What’s the big deal” she questioned, “I still love my husband.” Who in this room would want to be in a relationship based on that kind of disobedient love?
Let’s conclude our message with the hope that we would love Jesus more by obeying him more. Obedient love is the most beautiful, greatest, and purest of all loves. It is the very love with which Jesus wants us to love him so let’s pray now that we are willing and able to love him in this way.
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