[b]Keeping His Commandments[/b]
[i]by Eli Brayley[/i]
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." - John 14:21-23
For a long time I used to stumble at this verse, never quite understanding what it was truly saying. I used to believe that keeping Christ's commandments basically meant not sinning, or ceasing from all known sin in your life. I would get frustrated when the heavens would be like brass and God would seem so far away even though I was not committing any sins, thinking I was obeying the commandments of the Lord. How I was wrong!
Then one day God began to show me what I had been missing all this time. I saw that Jesus isn't talking about NOT doing something... He's talking about DOING something: an active commission, not a passive cessation. There I was, sitting around not sinning, but I wasn't doing anything, and I was expecting God to reveal Himself to me! But what exactly was I to be doing? The answer is one word: LOVE. And love is the fulfillment of all the commandments of God.
I see now that when we love, that is when Jesus manifests Himself to us. When we love, God, who is love, makes His abode in us. "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." (1 John 4:7) To love one another is to keep the commandments of Jesus, and not only does this manifest Christ to ourselves, but it also manifests Christ to others, for "by this (and by this alone) shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35) Love in deed is the bond of perfection. It's not a passive sinlessness, but a real, deliberate, purposeful, practical, dynamic, enthusiastic LOVE.
But what about sinlessness? Was my ceasing from sin in vain? Absolutely not. For by this lesson God taught me an indispensable truth which I'd also like to share with you:
Ceasing from sin does not make a man special, it makes a man normal. You were not created to sin, and when you do sin you make yourself sub-human, like a demon from hell, a rebel against God, a wicked perversion of nature, and you deface the image from which you were created. When a man refrains from disobedience, he essentially fits the form for which he was made, but nothing more. He becomes like a tree, or an animal, doing exactly what he is suppose to do, fulfilling the elemental laws of nature as a static human being. He eats, he sleeps, he works, he believes in God, he does not sin. There is nothing special about this, yet sadly so few even attain this normality.
But when a man loves, it is then that he touches the celestial plane! He is lifted above the human standard and begins to partake of the Divine nature, and it is then that Christ's promise is fulfilled, "...and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." When we love, we experience the life of God flowing in us, and through us, and all about us, manifesting His very presence in our steps. It is in our very acts of love that Jesus Christ promised to reveal Himself.
Have you stopped this sin or that sin? That is truly great, and God requires that you do so. You were never made to commit such things and Jesus died to cleanse you from it all. But do you love? For without love you may reach the place of human wholeness and appropriate behavior, but the Bible says you are nothing. If you are without love you are without Christ, and what a sad place that is to be.
My friend, perhaps you are like I was, striving to experience the risen Christ by only ceasing from your sinful deeds. Why not today reach out to those around you in love, following the example that Jesus gave us, and you will know the truth of His promise. Your life can be supernaturally transformed today, when you are no longer merely ceasing... but now actually doing.
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me..."
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon