“If you love me, keep my commands.” – John 14:15
“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.” – John 14:21
“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.” – John 14:23
On and on it goes. The repetition of this idea that love for Jesus is expressed through obedience makes an emphatic point. But “love” and “obedience” are not words we typically put together. Much less would we say they have a beautiful relationship with one another. So how can that be?
I would suggest we consider the idea that Jesus isn’t proposing two actions here, but one singular action that contains two parts: love and obedience. That is, they go together. An illustration might help.
Our church is engaged is a “space stewardship” project where we are moving from pews to auditorium style seats. This allows us to increase our seating capacity without knocking down walls or building new ones. When we were first exploring this idea, I met with a gentleman named Ryan who has been working with church seating for sixteen years. He came for a visit and I proceeded to listen to him talk about space stewardship for two solid hours. He was a wealth of information and stories and experiences. I was duly impressed.
Ryan loves his job. His love for his job has produced something very interesting. He has internalized the laws, codes, and principles of space stewardship. He radiates conformity to what his job does and requires. Listen to how Jesus says it…
“I do as the Father has commanded me so that the world may know that I love the Father.” – John 14:31
Jesus doesn’t obey the Father begrudgingly in order to convince the world he loves the Father. Jesus has internalized the ways and character of the Father so thoroughly that obeying the Father’s commands is what naturally comes out of Jesus.
The beautiful compatibility of love and obedience is this: love is the invisible obsession that leads to it’s visible expression, obedience.