Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Conditional Love??

For my devotions during this Holy Week, I'm reading the Upper Room Discourse in the Gospel of John. In John 15:10 there is a somewhat disturbing verse (at least it's disturbing for a performance junkie like me).

"IF you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love." Yikes! This verse terrifies those with a sensitive conscience or those who are performance-oriented. It's overwhelming to consider that God's love for me rests upon me or is turned away from me based on my keeping His commandments! Who keeps God's Commandments perfectly? How do I know, then, if I'm keeping enough of the commandments that will enable me to abide in His love? Again I say, "Yikes!"

A sensitive conscience is often similarly troubled when reading some of the Psalms of David:

Psalm 7:8--"Judge me, O LORD, according to MY righteousness" (are you kidding me??!!)
Psalm 18:20, 24--"The LORD has rewarded me according to MY righteousness."
Psalm 18:23--"I was blameless before Him"
Paul says much the same thing BEFORE his conversion: Phil 3:6--"as to righteousness under the law, blameless."

It seems to me that we must understand John 15:10 in a covenant of grace context. The Jewish sense of righteousness, blamelessness and even obedience or keeping of the commandments wasn't simply related to external behaviors and ethical morality. Obviously righteousness can not mean sinlessness, and neither can blamelessness mean perfection.

It seems to me that we must understand "keeping the commandments" in a holistic sense of spiritual faith as well as ethical behavior...in a word, "keeping the commandments" is a lifestyle of "Waltzing"...the 3 Step Dance with Christ of Repent! Believe! Fight!

To keep Christ's commands is not just obeying His ethical injunctions...though it does include that. It also includes repenting of failures and hoping continually in forgiving mercy and grace. It also means trusting in the finished work of Christ to impart righteousness as well as trusting in imputed righteousness. To obey the commandments means to live a life of repentance and faith as well as to fight for a holy life, depending upon the Holy Spirit of Grace.

Don't make the mistake of equating "keeping the commandments" with mere morality. We abide in God's love because through faith in Christ we live in vital union with Christ. We are clothed in His righteousness and THAT must be our ground of confidence of abiding in God's love. We experience the reality of that love as we "keep His commands," and that involves Waltzing, not perfection. Otherwise you would need to file down God's law and minimize His holiness to live with a sense of His love abiding upon you. Be confident in Christ's righteousness! Not only for assurance of eternal life, but for the abiding sense of the Father's love upon you as well!

1 comment:

Jim Shaw said...

I've always been one to say, "Yikes!!", when reading those particular verses also. Thanks for your discussion of that in light of the new covenant for us "performance junkies".