The other day I was reading one of my favorite sections of the Bible: John 14-17. During Jesus Christ’s last few hours spent with His closest disciples prior to His death, He provides them (and us) with some extremely encouraging messages describing how each of us can enjoy a deep relationship with Him and His Father.
As I was reading John 15:10, I saw the scripture in a new light. The verse reads, “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.” Most of us don’t use the word “abide” too often. In English, as in the original Greek, it has the meaning of remaining or staying with something.
In the past, I’ve read that verse as if Christ is telling His disciples (and us since we were also on His mind that night—John 17:20) something almost punitive. I had seen the statement as something like, “If you don’t do what I say, I won’t love you anymore.” As if God will withhold His love from us if we decide to thumb our noses at His instructions.
But that is not who God and His Son show themselves to be like throughout the Bible. Even when disciplining figures in biblical history (as He may do when correcting us after our mistakes), God never stops loving. He is not stingy with His love for us. Love is what He is at His core and saturates everything about Him (1 John 4:7-8). If God is omnipotent and omniscient (Daniel 4:35; Isaiah 40:28; Isaiah 43:13; Jeremiah 32:27; Psalm 147:5), then so is His love.
It struck me that Christ is once again emphasizing that His and God’s commandments point us to His love. Abiding, remaining, being saturated in God’s love is what He intends for each of us. As we follow Him and do what He tells us, since He is our Creator and knows what is best for us, we act and think and behave in a way where we fully experience God’s love as He intends each of us to experience. And in being obedient to Him, we reflect His love toward others and back to Him. We are able to understand God’s love in its fullest extent. His instructions are His expression of love toward us because they help us grow in all of our relationships and live our best lives.
If you are feeling out of sync with God or with others, study God’s commandments. A few years ago, I read through the Bible with the intent of copying down every Scripture where there is an imperative, a command, in the wording. I called it my playbook because I felt like it helped me focus in on some of the more direct lessons God intends to convey to us. If you sit down and study and meditate on God’s commandments, you come to see that He gives us the boundaries that protect us and those around us. To obey God is to feel His love for us to the fullest extent. May you abide in God’s love.