“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15
I’d like to think that both you and I could answer this simple question with a resounding, “YES!” If asked whether or not we love Jesus, most of us might not think too long before answering that question with a nod of our heads. We may have grown up singing the every popular Sunday School song “Jesus loves me, this I know”, and therefore concluded that we love Him in return. Love is a word that we tend to throw around a lot in our culture, but do we really know what it means?
Agape love (the word used for love in these verses) means the selfless love of one person for another. This is “you before me” mentality; your needs before my own. Do we love Jesus like this?
As I was searching my Bible for the above verse, I came across a few other verses that take this whole “love” thing to a new level.
“You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:14
Friends?!?! Friends of Jesus?? Now, loving someone and being a friend to someone are two very different things. How many of you would say that you love your pastor? I hope all of you would say that if you have a pastor, and for some of you, you could say that your pastor is your friend. The church I attend houses over 10,000 people on any given weekend on 5 different campuses across Phoenix. Now, I do love my pastor, but we are not friends. There is no possible way for him to be so acquainted with every person who attends our church. There are just too many. Who would you say you love? Your favorite athlete? Your favorite actor or actress? Musician or singer? And are you friends with them? My point is simply this: to love does not necessarily qualify friendship.
Then Jesus took it even further when He qualified just exactly what a friend would do with these words:
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
I believe many today would say that they love Jesus, but Scripture would challenge that profession with a few simple questions. Do you obey the teachings of the Bible? Do you do what it says? Do you submit yourself to the entire sum of the authority of God’s Word? And finally, if you do love Jesus and you would call Him “friend”, would you lay down your life for Him? The sad reality is that our churches are filled with professing Christians who neither read nor obey God’s Word. Other than an hour and a half of “church” on Sunday mornings, their lives aren’t altered in the least by their profession of faith. How many Christians (literally meaning “Christ followers”) have not read His written Word to us? How can we follow someone whom we haven’t read His teaching to us? And how can we follow someone whom we do not know where they are going? All of this is found in the Bible. Read it. Study it. Meditate on it. Memorize it. To love Jesus is to love and obey His Word. Maybe today is the perfect time for a reality check for some of us. Just as Jesus asked Peter this question as they sat around a fire eating fish after His resurrection (John 21:15-19), Jesus asks us the very same question today: Do you really love me?