Keep My Commandments
“If you don’t do what I want, I won’t be your friend anymore.” Variations on that line have been heard, I imagine, on playgrounds all around the world. I’ve certainly heard the line in my house. The idea that world runs on a system of of tit-for-tat, or in Latin “quid pro quo,” is ingrained in our nature. We assume God works the same way. If we do such and such, then God will love us. John 15:10 seems to reinforce that idea. If we keep Jesus’ commandments, then – and only then – God will love us.
But is that what Jesus is trying to tell us? In verse 9, Jesus says that the he has loved his disciples in the same way the Father has loved him. How does the Father love the Son? Eternally and continually. In the same way does God’s Son, Jesus, bestow his love on us. He then commands – commands – the disciples to remain in that love. And what God commands, happens. “Let there be light” – and there was light (Genesis 1:3). “Lazarus, come out!” – and Lazarus rises from death (John 11:43). What God commands happens. And so Jesus commands that his disciples remain in his love.
But what about the “if” in verse 10? “If” is a word that works in many ways. We can say, for example, that “if” the lights are on in the room, we will be less likely to stub our toes. In the same way, the result of Jesus’ command that we remain in his love leads us to keep his commandments. Poor, miserable sinners that would otherwise think only about themselves find themselves caring for others, often sacrificially. Why? Not so that God will be our friend. But because the Father has loved the Son, who in turn has loved us to the point of dying for our sins.
Loving Lord, cause us to remain in your love that we, too, may keep your commandments and serve the world as your beloved children. Amen.