Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Day Twenty-Two: To Love Christ is to Have Passion for Christ

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:9-10).

Yesterday we learned that to abide in Christ’s love is to love Christ, and that to love Christ is to obey his commandments. Today I want to add a simple but crucial idea to the mix: to love Christ is to have passion for Christ. I get this from the great commandment which originally appears in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

The word for “love” in the original language of the Old Testament is a very intense and passionate one. It is used to describe the love of God for his people (Deuteronomy 4:37), the love of parents for their children (Genesis 22:2), the love of a husband for a wife (1 Samuel 1:5), and even the corrupted love of sinners for evil (52:3). Thus, when the Bible calls us to love the Lord with all that is in us, it is not calling us to a dispassionate, uninterested, “I love because I’m supposed to” kind of love. Rather, it is calling us to a passionate, interested, “I love because I want to” kind of love.

In his commentary on Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew Henry said, “We must highly esteem him [God], be well pleased that there is such a Being, well pleased in all his attributes, and relations to us: our desire must be towards him, our delight in him, our dependence upon him, and to him we must be entirely devoted. It must be a constant pleasure to us to think of him, hear from him, speak to him, and serve him. We must love him.”

And what does this imply for our study of John 15:9-10? Just this: obedience is more than adherence to a list of rules, rather it is the manifestation of our passion for God. True, biblical obedience is not legalism, it is love. Consider the words of David from Psalm 119:46-48: “I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame, for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love. I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.” Does that sound like rote obedience to you? It is not. Quite the contrary, it is passion for God expressed in fidelity to his commandments. It is trust that God is good and only commands what is good and right and true.

So, the key thought for today is this: to abide in Christ is to love Christ, to love Christ is to obey his commandments, and to obey his commandments is to manifest our heart-felt passion for him.

Prayer Focus: Pray that God will deliver us from religious observances and teach us what it means to delight in him and his commandments with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength.

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