I have been spoiled with love my whole life. My parents showered it on me; my teachers praised me, my friends looked up to me. This may sound conceited, but I say it in the most grateful way: I know that I have always been loved. This hasn’t stopped me from always seeking it; there are many people I love very deeply, and being loved by other people brings me unspeakable joy. I see that my husband loves me everyday in the way he treats me, speaks to me, laughs with me, serves me, and trusts me. But sometimes he says “I love you” and I ask “Why?” Part of me wants to hear some cute reason I have never heard before. Another tiny, insecure part of me wonders, “Does he REALLY love me?”
John was the gospel that my parents asked me to read when I wanted to be baptized. I think they wanted me to know God’s entire story so that I could fall in love with him. By the time we get to John 14 we have seen some incredible things. We know who Jesus is. If I was a disciple and living next to Jesus every day, I think I would have first fallen in love with him when he offered living water to the woman at the well. My love would have grown as he welcomed children into his presence, and by the time he wept at the loss of his friend Lazarus, I would have realized that I had never really known love life this before.
Which is why I find it interesting that, in chapter 14, he says the words “If you really loved me...” so many times (John 14: 9, 15, 21, 23, 28). If Jesus was speaking to me, I feel like it would insult me. I would say, “You know I love you!” just like Peter does in John 21.
Jesus must see in his disciples what I see. They say they love him but they don’t always act like it. They are always afraid. They sin all the time. They are quick to be angry and to judge. They rely so much on what other people think of them. Oops… that sounds a lot like me.
Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands.” (vs. 15). It’s easy to like Jesus. He stood for the weary and the sick; he loved the oppressed and the broken. But to love someone is different. God wants us to be real. Saying we love him is not enough, we have to show it. Just like I know my husband loves me by the things he does, God knows we love him by the things we do. If we REALLY love him we act differently. We love our enemies and help the needy. We are people of peace and joy. We don’t fear or judge or condemn.
The love Christ deserves is infinite. Bob Goff, in his popular book Love Does, says, “That's what love does - it pursues blindly, unflinchingly, and without end. When you go after something you love, you'll do anything it takes to get it, even if it costs everything.” That kind of mad love is what God is looking for. It’s the way he expects you to love. It’s the way he loved you.
How will you love our savior?
“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:21
Holly Racca Middle School Youth Minister Southern Hills Church of Christ Abilene, TX