From the series Jesus Unfiltered - Love
Here are two words we don’t immediately connect together - Love and Obedience. Now, the fact is, most of us bristle a little when faced with the word Obedience. But these two words not only go together, they cannot be separated, when we're talking about God. Join Chip as he explores this important aspect of love.
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About this series
Jesus Unfiltered - Love
When we get past the poetic, ideal of love and dig down to the practical, day-to-day details, “love” begs some questions: What does it really mean? How does it think? How does it behave? In this third volume of his series Jesus Unfiltered, Chip Ingram explains, through John chapters 11-15, what love really looks like for those who call Jesus, Lord.More from this series
If you’ll pull out your teaching notes, I want to start by asking a question that you might have a very first answer to, but I would like to challenge how we tend to think of it. And the question is this: Is love more than a feeling?
Is loving someone more than a good, positive, emotional connection feeling? And I would say for most of us, we would say, Well, no, there’s got to be more to it than that.
But in pop culture beginning the sixties, and we won’t go into the whole existential movement with truth. But if I say something like, “If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be…” Oh, gosh, how did you guys know that? That’s an old song. Right?
Or do you remember the B.J. Thomas, some of this will really date you. You’ve heard it on an elevator, right? “Hooked on a feeling, high on believing that you’re…” Oh, this is scary.
No, literally, you read the lyrics, “I’m hooked on a feeling,” later in the song he says, “I’m powerless and a victim of your love. I’m an addict.” In other words, love is something that is so powerful, so pulsating, so penetrating that whatever it is, you just have to respond to it. But it’s fundamentally a feeling.
And honestly, an awful lot of what has happened outside the Church and inside the Church is that if you really love someone or if you love something, it justifies any behavior, because you love them, right? How could love be wrong? But love gets kind of squishy.
My first conflict with this concept was in high school. I talk about basketball a lot, but I played baseball in high school and college. And we had a great baseball team my senior year in high school. And what made it great was we had a lot of guys who could hit, but we had two pitchers who were great.
And our ace, back then, eighty-five miles an hour in high school. And he had a curve ball that would just drop off the table. High school kids couldn’t hit it.
The championship game, we are there, we are ready, we are going to win the whole thing. And we’ve got our ace on the mound. Well, senioritis sets in. Three days before the game, he decides, I’m going to cut school. He goes out and parties. He gets suspended. We want to kill him.
So it’s the championship game, he shows up in his dress clothes; he can’t dress out. And he gives this shrug of the shoulders and he goes, “Hey, I really want you guys to know,” we had a brotherhood; it was a great team. “I just want you guys to know that I really love you.”
I’m thinking, Really? I mean, really? So we lost the game, by the way. And I didn’t feel real loved by him at all. His words were absolutely meaningless. I wasn’t a Christian at that time, I had lots of responses that I won’t share here.
And you get the idea? Someone says they love you, but their behavior is like, Come on, man!
Well, it gets really personal and often very painful when there is a discrepancy between even a good feeling. I think he was sincere. He felt good about us. But I remember maybe one of the earliest counseling times, I was a very young pastor and a young man came and sat in my office and he said, “My wife met some guy at the gym, and she told me that she has fallen in love, and she can’t deny herself. And even though she knows it’s wrong, she is leaving with this guy and I’ve got these two little kids. But she said she still loves me but this is just…”
And I remember thinking, Wow. And then scores and scores and scores of counseling sessions over the years, I have sat at more than a few restaurants or in my office with a husband and a wife, and a guy who feels overwhelmingly remorseful. But unconsciously, love is such a pulsating feeling and you’re such a victim of it and you have to respond, and he is telling me and telling his wife, “Look, she was just a prostitute. It was just sex. It’s just pictures on the Internet. It’s just sex. Okay? It was an affair, but I love you. I love you, I love the kids. This is just sex. It’s not even…”
And I just have to tell you, if you have never been in that sort of situation, her face was not, It was just sex. Her face is, I have been betrayed, and your words of, “I love you,” feel absolutely meaningless.
And I think what it does is it raises the question of: What is the relationship between love and behavior or love and obedience? And this isn’t new.
This isn’t something that has happened in the last fifty or sixty years. It was so prevalent in Jesus’ day, He told a little parable in Matthew 21. I have put it in your notes if you want to check it out later.
And He tells the story of a father trying to teach people about obedience and love. And He says, “A father went to two of his sons and he says to the two sons, ‘I want you to go out and work in the fields today.’ And one son said, ‘Great, I’ll do it, Dad.’ And the other said, ‘Dad, I’m not going to go.’” The one son who said, “I will go,” gets halfway there and decides, You know, I’m not doing this. I’m going to blow him off. So he says he will go, but he doesn’t. The other son says,“I won’t go,” and then he decides later, You know what? This is my dad. This is…
And so he decides later to go ahead and obey. And Jesus said, “Which one of these has obeyed their father?” And the inference was, “Which one of them really loved their dad?”
We are going to talk about where love and obedience connects and how does it work? Our feelings and our passions and our, those are all really, really important. But there are some things that are deeper and we’ve got to figure out how they fit together. Because Jesus has told His disciples He really loves them, and as you open your notes, we are going to look at John chapter 14, and what we are going to do is we are going to see how He communicates His love by His words, how He is going to remind them of His actions, and how He is then going to flip it around.
And in about the middle of this evening of this conversation, He will tell them and He will tell us, Here is love, here is obedience, I want you to know, here’s how they fit together. So that when you say, “I love you,” to a person or say, “I love you,” to God, this is how they really fit together.
Now, as you open the notes, you’ll notice that there is the context. And what I mean by that is what has been going on. And I wrote it out for you, because it’s a very emotional moment.
I don’t want you to think of, Here’s a Bible story and we are hearing this. This is twelve, grown men who have left everything. By the authorities, they want to arrest them. They have been abandoned, they have been kicked out of the synagogues, they are following this itinerant preacher with multitudes of people following Him.
But on this evening, He has told them that He is going to leave, and they don’t get it. And then Peter says, “Well, I’ll never leave You!” He goes, “No, actually, Peter, I know you’re the leader and all that. But you’re not only not going to follow Me, you are going to deny Me three times before the evening is even over.”
And now the other disciples are going, Mr. Peter, if he is going to blow it, what about us? Judas has left, and these guys are paralyzed with fear and anxiety and uncertainty. The dream that they had that the Messiah is Jesus and that He was going to take down Rome and He was going to set up a political kingdom on earth, in their lifetime and they were going to be the head honchos with Him – that evaporated.
And they are not sure what it is to follow this Messiah. He has done all the miracles of the Messiah, He teaches like no one else. They believe that He is God, but His agenda for how He is going to play that out, and their expectations are this far away. Anybody feel like that in your life? Like, I’m really following God, I really love God, and I was thinking we were going this direction, and it feels like this direction.
Anybody here like, Wow, I really want to follow Jesus, but life, it’s not turning out right now in my relationships or my health or my work. If this is what it means, I don’t get it. That’s what He is going to address.
Peter, Thomas, Philip, and Judas – not Iscariot – the other disciple, they all have questions. And so what I want you to know is, in your mind, if you can picture this critical conversation after they have taken the Lord’s Supper and Judas is gone, is each one is going to ask questions, and Jesus will weave teaching into the conversation. And just listen. His goal is to love them, to comfort them, and to help them. And as we eavesdrop, I think it will help us.
Peter basically said, “So, where are You going?” And Jesus answers, verse 1, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would not have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and I will take you with Me that you may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Now, first of all, just imagine. You have heard all this stuff about, When I die, and I will be raised, and Messiah, and your head has been spinning. And now people are trying to kill you and you’re in a secret hideout. And He has talked about, “This is My body and this is My bread and this is what I am going to do.”
But all of, it’s just like, whooo, what’s going on? And Peter says, “I want to follow You, but where are You going?” And number one, what He says is, “I am going to prepare a place for you. I am going to the Father and where I am going, I am going to prepare,” it says, “many rooms,” or an old translation is, “mansions.” Don’t think a plantation like in the South.
In the ancient world, families lived together and so the patriarch or the father of the family, when someone would get married, he would betroth his wife, which would be a legal contract, and then he would say, “Okay, you have agreed to marry me,” and whatever dowry and everything.
Then he would go back and actually build onto the father’s house and the related network, and then come back and take his wife.
And Jesus is picturing, I am for you, but I am leaving, but I am preparing – why? So that you can be with Me. He is giving them comfort in the moment by saying, There is an absolute certain future, and I will be back because I love you and I am for you.
And then He says, “You know the way,” and if you have your own Bible, probably not one of these pew Bibles, you can circle the word know, because there are two different words He is going to use.
And this one is: This is a fact. You know the fact of the way I am going and where I am going. In other words, it’s a word that’s like two plus two is four. Everybody knows that, right?
The other word for know in Greek is a word that means you know by experience. You know how this works because you have experienced it and He will use that in just a minute.
And so to Peter’s question, basically, the comfort is, “I am coming back, the agenda that you thought you were going to get is different than the agenda that you’re going to get. But it’s good for you.”
Well, Thomas speaks up and basically says, “Wait a second. You say we know the way, it’s simple. I don’t get it.”
Verse 5 he says, “Lord, we don’t know the way or where You are going, so how can we know the way?” And Jesus said maybe the most profound words that ever came out of His mouth that are very direct. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you really knew Me (by experience), you would know (by experience) My Father as well. From now on, you do know Me and know Him and you have seen Him.”
And so the word “way” here, sometimes we, the literal word, it’s if you were picking up a Greek document and you read this, it would be the path or the road. The word is Hodos. You know the path. So you’re at point A and you want to go from this city to this city. Here is the road. Here is the path.
What He is saying is: Everything I have come to do is to reveal the Father and take people to the path, back to the Father. There is this huge barrier of the selfishness and sinfulness of man and God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit so loves all that He has made, He wants them to be with Him. I came to reveal the Father, and I am the actual path. My life, how I have lived, what I have said, follow Me. I am the path. I am not only the path or the way to the Father, I am the truth of the Father. All that is true of the Father is true of Me. In fact, I am not only the path and the truth, I am the actual source of life, because if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.
Now, they have heard different teachings, but He is putting it together. So you have hope, you are in the presence – He couldn’t be more clear – of God. And He has made, I think sometimes we, as Christians, get a little bit squirmish. It’s very exclusive. It’s very politically incorrect.
The idea that there is a god that you can put any name to and there are multiple paths to go up to the mountain to this God – one, it’s not only not biblical, it’s totally illogical.
When I sit down with a Muslim or a Mormon or people from any truth claim, there is a very clear path. And they are all very, very different. And they are all mutually exclusive.
Here’s the deal: If Jesus is in fact God and if He rose from the dead to prove it, and it’s true, when He says, “I am the only way,” He is the only way, it’s not narrow. Because the issue is not some formula or some way of living or sometimes that you need to pray or some concept that you can move into the cosmos.
The problem is there is a barrier between a personal God and He has broken the barrier and He has created a path, by His death on the cross He has forgiven the sins of all people of all time, and He has risen from the dead to give life, because it’s about a relationship. It’s not about some style of living.
And so He is making it very, very clear. They would give their lives and follow Him and you are here today and I am here today because of their faithfulness.
But Thomas has a question: “Okay, I don’t know the way. You are the way, the actual way? If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father?” Philip goes, You know what? How about a little closer look at the Father? Okay? I’m still not following You.”
And so Philip says, “‘Show us the Father and that will be enough.’ Jesus said, ‘Don’t you know Me,’” relationally, experientially, “Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time. Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?”
Proof number one, “The words I say to you are not just My own. Rather, it is the Father, living in Me, who is doing the work. If you don’t believe on the works, then at least believe in the evidence of the miracles themselves.”
And so He is clarifying – all this teaching, all this journey He is saying, “When you see Me, you see the Father.” “Well, show us the Father.” “You have been living in the presence.” The very first chapter of John’s gospel, this is written about 90, between 90 and 100 A.D. The Church has been multiplying thousands, and tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people are following this Jesus now in a very hostile environment.
In fact, they are being taken into coliseums and they are being persecuted and killed. And as they are following Him, John, led by the Holy Spirit, writes the gospel of John to help people understand who Jesus really was and correct some error.
And he says, “In the beginning,” not of time, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. All things that have come into being have come to being through Him, and there has been nothing created that hasn’t been created by Him. And the Word became flesh,” the logos, the communication, the personal communication of the Second Person of God’s heart and Trinity, Jesus, “the Word became flesh and,” literally, “tabernacled,” or, “lived among us, that we would behold His glory,” see who God really is.
“The Law came through Moses, but truth and grace came through Jesus,” and then he would say, “no man has seen God at any time,” this was the goal. “but He,” Jesus, “has revealed Him.”
If you want to know what God is like, it’s exactly how Jesus is. If you want to know how God feels about poor people, how did Jesus feel about poor people? If you want to know how God feels when you’re discouraged and hurting and angry and you have really blown it and failed, it’s how He feels like when the woman caught in adultery is thrown at His feet.
If you want to know how He feels about people who are arrogant and self-dependent and think they’ve got it all together, it’s how Jesus feels about the Pharisees, and you can read that. “When you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.”
I am the bridge, I am the path, I am the way to the Father, I came to reveal the Father. Now look at verse 12. Now He is going to say that there is an assignment. “We have been talking about this the whole time. Your assignment is to do the very thing that I have been doing. I am going to leave and you are going to reveal the Father to the whole world.”
Look at verse 12. Verse 12 He says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing.” What has He been doing? Revealing the Father. How? By His words and His miracles.
“He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” He says not quantitatively, but qualitatively. You all will have far more impact than the thirty or thirty-three years that I lived on the earth. You will have far more impact than this little piece of geography. You’re going to do things that, literally, transform the world. And it’s true. It has happened.
And then notice this amazing promise. He says, “And I will do whatever you ask in My name,” focus, “so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it.”
And so He is not only comforting them; and, Yes, it’s not what you expect, but I have a different agenda. It’s a better agenda. Then the question comes up: “How are we going to pull this off? How in the world could we do greater works? We are actually scared to death right now.”
And notice He is going to tell them, He is going to say, get this down, He is going to say, You all are uptight because you feel like you are going to be orphans and abandoned. You are uptight because all you can think about are the circumstances and the fear and what might happen later tonight. You guys are uptight because the agenda that you thought I had you own, guess what, the outcome is going to be better and greater, but the way to get there is going to be really different.
I want you to know that I am going to give you something better and richer and deeper than you have ever known. You think it’s been great to walk with Me on these dusty roads and we talk together and we share together and I have put My arm around you, and we have done counseling and you were used by Me. I am going to tell you that every, single one of you and every future follower will never have to wait in line to talk to Me.
He is going to say, The Holy Spirit is going to be sent, and He is going to live inside of every believer. And this Holy Spirit will bring the very presence of the Father and the Son to live inside of every believer in this new thing called a New Covenant, so that you can have access and power and conversation, 24/7.
Notice He explains it in the very next section, verses 15 through 21. He says, “If you love Me,” literally, “if you keep on loving Me, you will obey what I command.” Remember, He just commanded them, “Ask of anything. Your goal is to reveal the Father.”
“Now, if you obey Me in this journey of revealing the Father, ask Me whatever you wish, and I will ask the Father, and He will give you another counselor,” literally, another advocate. The word is paraclete. One who is called alongside, right next to you, to give you everything that you need.
The word was used for a lawyer, it was used for a helper, it was used for a counselor. In other words, but the word “another,” are you ready for this? It’s another of the same kind.
Verse 22, Jesus is confronted with Judas, (not Iscariot), “But, Lord, why do You intend to show Yourself to us and not to the world?”
Jesus replied, “If anyone loves Me, He will obey My teaching. My Father will love him,” and notice the change, not I, “we will come to him and make Our home with him.”
Are you understanding what He is saying? The Second Person of the Trinity, God in flesh, leaving, says, “I am going to be with the Father; I am the path. If you continue to follow and obey My teaching, I will reveal Myself to you. But as you do that, the Father and the Son, we will come and,” literally, “your heart, your inner person will become the home,” literally, “the dwelling place of the Eternal God.”
Have you ever, do you get that? Christianity is not like: be a good person, try really hard, have a little bit better morality, be nice. It’s about a supernatural relationship with your Creator, where the Spirit of God manifests, makes known.
And a little bit later, some of you are thinking, I’m not experiencing a whole lot of that, so you better get to that part soon. I will. Okay? I will.
And what you are going to see is it is so, Jesus is so profound and so simple and so clear and so loving. He didn’t write a book for rocket scientists and all of you Ph.Ds. – God bless you all. But there are some of us simple people. It’s just got to be clear. But what happens is we get it all “religious.” And we miss the point.
Finally, Judas gets his question answered and Jesus says, “All these things I have spoken to you while I am still here. But the Counselor, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name,” here’s the promise, “He will teach you all things and He will remind you of everything that I have said to you.”
So here is My gift, “My peace I leave with You. I don’t give you peace like the world.” There is a supernatural peace of knowing the future is secure, the Spirit of God lives in you. You know where you’re going. I am going to take care of you, the worst that could ever happen to anyone is to die. And the moment that happened, you would be ushered into My presence. And there is a forever and an ever and an ever and an ever called “eternity.” I want you to know, that one is done. It’s solved. But in between times, I am going to give you a supernatural ability to not respond in fear and worry.
Literally this: “Let your heart not be troubled,” it’s, “Let your heart be at ease.” I might even translate it, “Lighten up. Lean back. I got this. I got this and I’ve got you. And it is going to be okay.”
And for some, I am going to deliver you completely out of some hard stuff. And for others, I am going to deliver you right through it. And for others, I am going to deliver you to Myself, because you are that precious. You can’t lose with Me.
“So be at peace. Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Don’t be afraid. You heard Me say, ‘I am going away; I am coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I am going to Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you before it happens,” there are no surprises, guys! I didn’t say it was going to be easy, but there are no surprises.
“I told you before it happens, so when it does you can believe. Now, I am not going to speak to you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. But he has no hold on Me.” There is a dark day coming. The world is going to get dark, and Satan is going to have his day, and he is going to think that it has all been won, because the Son of God is going to die. And when He dies, He is going to defeat death when He is risen from the dead. He is going to defeat sin and He is going to defeat Satan.
So He is going to say to these guys, notice the very last line, “I need to demonstrate My love for the Father, because I will do exactly as He asks.” How does Jesus connect His love for the Father? It’s with His submission and obedience to the Father’s will.
And could I remind you, emotionally? If Jesus was going with: If it feels good, do it – He wouldn’t have done it. Do you remember at the garden? Remember when He was praying? Remember when He was sweating great drops of blood?
Sometimes we think Jesus had a big “S” on His chest. When it got really hard, He turned into God. Fully God, fully man! Hypostatic union without confusion. He died as a man. Every emotion, every temptation, every struggle, every fear, every doubt that any human being has ever had, Jesus had as a man. And He did not turn on His “God aspect.” He came and as a man, He submitted to the Father’s will, powered by the Holy Spirit to give His life away for you, knowing He would be beaten to a pulp, knowing that there would be a moment in time when the Father would turn away because sin would be placed on Him for you and for me.
But who, for the joy set before Him said, “I will endure that,” – why? Because He loves you. He loves me. And He says, “I want the world to know I love the Father. And the example is why I obeyed Him.”
The connection, verse 15; the connection, verse 21; the connection, verse 31, “If you love Me, you obey; if you love Me, you obey.”
“If you love Me,” doesn’t mean you don’t struggle, but you don’t log on to porn and you don’t have affairs, If you love Me. If you love Me, you don’t walk off with the trainer and leave me with two kids. If you love Me, you don’t say, “Oh, I’m on your team,” but not show up.
Love and obedience – obedience is not some external, I’ve got to do the right thing, I’m trying to earn someone’s favor. Obedience flows out of a…did you notice? Go through the text later this afternoon and every time the word “know” after the very first, circle it, circle it, circle it, circle. “If you knew Me, if you knew Me, don’t you know, don’t you know?” It’s about knowing and intimacy and love.
When you love someone, you care about their outcome and their concern more than yourself.
Now, I understand that is a clear story and this is history and what has happened. But as I go through things like this, sometimes I feel like maybe it’s the teacher in me or I tend to be pretty strategic and linear.
So what I did is I took everything that we have learned that I thought, I am going to put that in six clear points and just say, “Okay, because God loves me, here are six things that are true that come out of this text.”
And then I am going to give you just a little bit of warning. Here’s how I want you to list, because I am going to go through them very quickly. I want you to think, This is true of me, because God loves me, this is true of me. This is true of me.
So, are you ready? Let me just summarize what you have already learned.
Because God loves me, Jesus is preparing a place for me with the Father. I don’t know what you’re going through, but right now, at this instant, He is preparing a place for you personally, if you know Him.
Because God loves me, God sent Jesus to make a way for me to be with the Father. He is the path, He is the road, He is the way, He revealed the Father. It’s a gift.
Because God loves me, He sent Jesus to reveal to me what God is really like. You can know Him personally. It’s not some vague, religious concept. You can know His heart. The Holy Spirit isn’t an “it.” It’s not a force. It’s a person.
We can make Him sad, we can make Him happy, He wants to talk to you, He wants to speak to you, He wants you to know what He wants you to do. He wants to reveal things to you, He wants to put His arm around you, He wants to give you the kind of strength I saw at my breakfast where someone looked me in the eye in the midst of stage four cancer and said, “I’m not afraid.”
And then told me amazing things where God, people he hardly, or didn’t even know where God is beginning to minister to him to say, Hey, I just want you to know, you’re going through this, I love you. I haven’t forgotten you. And He wants you to get that.
Because God loves me, number four, He will use me greatly and hear me always. Isn’t it amazing to think that the One who spoke the maybe between one hundred and two hundred billion galaxies into existence is, like, Hey, I’d like you to be on My team. I made everything, but I would like you to be on My team and I want you to follow Jesus and I want you to reveal to people, by your words and your actions, exactly like Jesus did. And, by the way, I’ll give you the power. I want to know you. I love you.
Because He loves me, He sent the Holy Spirit, notice, to live inside of me to make known or to manifest the presence, the personality, and the power of Jesus, 24/7.
You have the ability to have a deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus than Peter, James, John, or any disciple that walked on the face of the earth on those dusty trails. Deeper.
Finally, because He loves me, He gives me peace even in a world of turmoil by defeating death, sin, and Satan.
Do you know how free you are when you get really clear? Do I want to? Not anytime soon. I am not afraid to die. Peace. Sin, addictions, temptations – do I struggle with them? Yes. They have no power over me. I am not a prisoner. I have peace, I have freedom. Satan is an enemy. There is evil in the world, but greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. That’s who you are.
How do we love Him?” And Jesus really laid that out. So, let me highlight. And if you have your pen, maybe you’re going to put a checkmark just next to one of these.
But this is what Jesus taught in this passage we have gone through. “If you really love Me, you will obey,” right? If you really love God, or better, because I love God, I will not fear, because my future is secure. That’s a choice. That’s where you let your mind go. I will not fear. There is a place for me. My eternity is settled. Now I work it backwards.
Second, because I love God, I will trust Jesus as the only way to eternal life. I’m going to respond to the offer. It’s a free gift. But I have to take that step and receive it.
Third, because I love God, I will make knowing God the number one priority of my life. Now, think of that. Now, some of you are in business, some in art, some in education, some in sports and athletics. I want you to think about what you’re most interested in. Let’s just pretend the three greatest CEOs that have ever lived said to you, “You’re in the business world, I’ll tell you what we’ll do. Three hours, three times a week, I would like to mentor you. I’ll come to your house.” Would you show up?
Or you’re into music and you say: the greatest violinist or the greatest pianist or the greatest harp player or the greatest guitar-whatever said, “You know what? I want to help you learn to play the guitar like me. I’m the greatest in the world. Three times a week, I’ll come to your house for three hours and I will work with you to help you be the greatest guitar player in the world.” Would you show up?
Or, I know you have a heart for athletics. Get the story. I think we would, we would be there, wouldn’t we? No second thought. Make knowing God the number one priority of your life. Eternal life isn’t some gift that you get after you die. Jesus would literally say a few chapters later, “This is eternal life, that they know You, Father, and Your Son whom He has sent.”
And so, when we talk about: how do you know Him? He said, “Well, Your Word is truth. You can talk to Me anytime. I have put My Spirit in other believers.” So, through His Word and through other Christians, and as I talk to Him, here’s – make knowing Him your number one priority, before food, before family, before work, before anything. Because whoever you hang out with, you become like.
And if you become more and more like Jesus, you’ll have a better family and your work will be better and your world will be better and everything. But I will tell you what, we give lip service and say, “Oh, You’re really important to me, but I don’t talk to You much. You don’t talk to me much. My behavior and my priorities don’t reflect that knowing You, enjoying You, loving You is my number one priority.”
Fourth, because I love God, I will use my time and talent and treasure and platform or influence to make Jesus known to others.
Number five, because I love God, I will submit my heart and my mind and will obey the Holy Spirit’s direction through His Word, His people, and His promptings.
Can I encourage you to put a little asterisk here? This may be the pivotal point. Because a lot of what I have said, I am astute enough in my own life, and I know lots of you, is this idea that God is so personal and so real and He speaks and all this, is like you are going, You know what? Good for you, dude! I’m not getting a lot of that. Right? I don’t hear these promptings. I’m not having these amazing answers to prayer and I don’t really feel or experience God all that much.
Listen, listen carefully. Obedience is the organ through which intimacy with God is obtained. It’s not knowledge, it’s not religious activity, it’s not trying hard, it’s not trying to be moral. Jesus said over and over and over – what? “If you love Me, obey Me.”
So here’s the thing: Has God spoken to you? Has God spoken to you about something? If you respond to the light that He gives you, and it might be: Forgive so-and-so, or forgive your mom, forgive your dad, forgive your ex, forgive your business partner.
And down deep, No, I’m not doing that. Then guess what, you don’t get more light. He says, Deal with the lust in your life. Deal with your greed. Resolve this issue. He has been nudging you, Go to counseling and work on this marriage. No, I’m not doing that, but I’ll go serve in the church. He doesn’t want you to serve in the church!
He wants you to respond to the area that He has put His finger on, because He loves you. If you do take a baby step, He will give you more light. And as you take that step, He will manifest, He will make Himself known, there will be more power, there will be more joy.
Every time I take a step toward God, what He wants me to do: More, more, more. By the same token, the opposite is true. You can be involved in Bible studies and you can come to church and you can have a morality that is better than people. But if He has put His finger on, You have never forgiven your father. Or, You have this private addiction with TV or with the Internet, or, You’re trying to juggle your life.
How many times are your kids or your wife or your husband going to say, “Are you going to live for work? Or are you going to live for what really matters?” And you keep telling, “Yeah, yeah. Right after this big deal, it’s all going to be okay.” Stop! Knock it off!
Do what God is speaking to you to do, and I am going to tell you, and then you’re going to go, I can’t! Of course you can’t! And so you say, Lord, I can’t forgive him. But I choose to do it, and then I will tell you, this will open up. And then you will need people. And then He will speak to you. And then He will give you peace.
Now, are you afraid? Of course you are. Obedience to God requires faith and courage and usually help. Everything I am telling you, I can’t do. I praise God I’ve got a wife who walks through it with me and close friends who…all this is true of me. And He wants me to do that and I don’t want to do it. And then I realize I’ll be stuck.
How many of you are stuck? How would you like to get unstuck? Well, it’s not some big, big deal. Take the next step. Maybe He has been saying, I’d kind of like you to read My Word. I’d like to speak to you. Or maybe, Could you not rush talking all the time? Could we have a long, easygoing conversation? I don’t know what it is.
The final thing is: Because I love God, I refuse to worry. I’m just going to let my heart be at ease. Now you say, I can’t. Of course you can’t. Your mind goes certain places, you’re putting certain things in your mind. You can choose to put your mind on other things, and as you do, we have learned here how not to worry.
The very back page, which you all are there, I like the turning of the pages, that’s really good, is I bet you can, what is the relationship? Where do we start? What is the relationship between love and obedience? Love does what? Could you fill it in? Oh my gosh, I failed!
Love obeys. But, see, obedience that flows out of love is different than outward performance or moral conformity that flows out of guilt. It’s like night and day.