September 2018 Blog Theme: Embracing Both Obedience and Mercy
In 1992, a book was published that took off like wildfire. To date, it has sold more than 10 million copies, has been translated into 50 different languages, and earned a spot on Amazon’s top 100 best seller’s list of all time. That book is “The 5 Love Languages”, by Dr. Gary Chapman.
A counselor and pastor, Dr. Chapman describes five ways through which people receive love — words of affirmation, touch, gifts, acts of service and quality time. I can remember this book having a powerful impact on my marriage as Liz and I tried to apply these principles to our relationship. What stood out most to us was the fact that every person has a primary love language. Every person has a unique way he or she receives love. The other ways are good — and we enjoy them — but there is one way that stands out above the rest that really touches our hearts.
Did you know that God also has a love language? There is one primary way He receives love from you, one way that touches His heart. On the night before His death, Jesus gathered with His men in an upper room. His heart was heavy because they would never meet like this again. In that darkened room, with shadows dancing on the ceiling, Jesus spoke about His love language. He said …
- “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” (John 14.15 ESV).
- “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me,” (John14.21 ESV).
- “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word,” (John 14.23 ESV).
Did you see it? Three times Jesus said, “If you love me, you will do what I’m commanding you to do.”
I want you to notice what He did not say. He did not say:
- “If you love me, you will worship me.”
- “If you love me, you will serve me.”
- “If you love me, you will read and know the Bible.”
- “If you love me you will give financially.”
- Are those things good? Yes. Does God receive those things as good? Yes. But if you do all of those things but not the primary thing, then it doesn’t matter to Him.
What shows Jesus that you truly love Him — what touches His heart more than anything else — is when you do what He has commanded you to do! One proves the other!
This is an excerpt from the book Walk with God by Craig Etheredge, which you can purchase here.
Your love for God and obedience to Jesus cannot be separated. I know people who say, “I love God,” but their lives are not lined up with what Jesus clearly teaches. They claim to love God, but they are harboring bitterness, they spew out anger, they are driven by greed, they ignore the Great Commission — you name it. There is very little obedience to King Jesus in their lives. There is something wrong with this picture.
Jesus is saying, “What’s wrong with the picture is a heart issue. They don’t really love me.” Over 28 times in the Gospels, Jesus commands His followers to listen to Him and do what He says. “Listen carefully.” “Hear my words.” “Do what I say.” “Obey my commands.” “Act on what I say.”
Obedience is a big deal to Jesus, but it’s seen as optional today. I believe that the heart of the problem of why so many Christians are not experiencing the abundant, overflowing, God-blessed, joyful life that Jesus wants to give them is because of this one problem. Many really do not love Him enough to obey Him.
In the upper room, Jesus was sharing His last words with the men He had loved and poured His life into for more than three years. Last words are really important. In that moment He said, “Men, it is really important that you live a life of obedience to me!”
You may ask “Why? Why should I alter my life to obey Jesus?” It’s like the conversation when a parent tells a child to do something and the kid asks, “Why?” Usually the parent will say something like, “Because I told you so!” Well, Jesus could have said that. He could have said, “Obey me because I’m your King!” But He didn’t. In this passage He actually says, “If you really love me and you alter your life to obey me, I will bless you.”
Through obedience you experience the power of the Spirit (John 14.15-17 ESV), the love of the Father (John 14.21, 23 ESV), and the nearness of Christ in your life (John 14.21, 23 ESV). Do you want to experience all that God has for your life? You can, but these things come pouring into your life through the funnel of obedience. This week we are going to look at what it means to live a life of obedience to Jesus.
Written by Craig Etheredge
This blog is an excerpt that comes from our book Walk with God, which you can purchase here.