7th Sep, 2008

Loving Jesus – Defined?! Objective? Subjective?

John 15 is such a rich summary of what we are called to as imitators/followers/disciples of Christ and Sons and Daughters of God.

4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5″I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

As His followers we must remain in Him. This begs the question: How do we remain in Jesus?

Well, Jesus tells us in the very next two verses:

9″As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

He tells us to remain in His love. And, to remain in His love is to obey His commands.

Does this mean that we need to find all His “commands” throughout the gospels and memorize those and obey them as though they are a new set of laws to follow? Is Jesus telling us that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John deliver the new legal code? What are His commands?

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Now we have a lot to live by. (1) Remain in Jesus by (2) remaining in His love by (3) obeying His command to love each other as He has loved us. But there still remains a question – how did He love us and can we love in that same way?

13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.

We love each other by laying down our lives and being a friend to others. We must be willing to sacrifice personal gain for the personal gain of others. Just as Christ left heaven and did not count equality with God as something to be grasped to enter our world and take up His cross, we must be willing to do the same. Just as Christ took off His royal robes to don the simple towel of a servant to was our feet, so we must be willing to be slaves to others to take care of their needs. This isn’t a black and white legal code. This is impossible for our minds to draw lines around.

It’s one of those things that is understood and made known more by doing than by defining.

A simple call? Are you doing it? I’m not. But I want to. Do you?


I must disagree in one sense. We don’t love people by laying down our lives, or by sacrificing for someone else. We do those things for people we love, but the act isn’t love.

Love is love. We don’t really need to define it. And if we sacrifice for someone whom we never love in the sense of fondness or emotional bond, we’re little better than welfare. Even the government does that.

I think we believe the same thing about Jesus, at times. I heard a pastor tell of a couple who hadn’t been in church in 17 years; he said they were saved & loved the Lord, they just hadn’t been in church. If we settle for that kind of “love” for others, chances are we’ll never experience God’s love. We’ll settle for the knowledge that He loves us, and go on our merry way.

Bob Cleveland’s last blog post..I Went For Lunch; What I Had Was Church

Consider 1 John 3:16 with your statement of disagreement, Bob. What do you think?

16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

His laying down His life was a result of His love for us, it wasn’t the love itself.

Jesus told us the second great command was to LOVE our neighbors as ourselves. Had He intended the obligation to be the sacrifice, I imagine He would have said the second great commandment was to sacrifice, not to love.

I think churches tend to re-define “love” and “peace” and “joy” to mean other things .. sacrifice, assurance that God is in control, the knowledge that things will turn out well for those who love the Lord. I conjecture that we say those things because we don’t see that much joy, or peace, or love among the brethren, so we dodge the problem by re-casting the terms. Only trouble, for me, is that God says assurance and sacrifice and knowledge in the Bible, so He does know how to say those things. I figure when He says love, peace, and joy, He means love, peace, and joy.

Bob Cleveland’s last blog post..I Went For Lunch; What I Had Was Church


We are saying the same thing, i think, except that I am saying that you can’t know what love is apart from the actions made because of it (thus, the title of the post) – like James defining faith… like Jesus and saying that we love Him when we obey His commands…. it is the doing, not the intransitive.

Don’t be distracted by the word “sacrifice.” To love Jesus wholeheartedly means emptying oneself completely – absolute surrender in the words of Andrew Murray. We must be wholly dedicated to His use. If we save anything for our own use then He can’t pour Himself in. Like a bottle that is useful for wine – if there’s a little bit of coffee in there, who would want to pour in wine?

One can empty himself all day .. one can sacrifice everything he has .. one can do everything we can in obedience .. but if we do it without love .. it means nothing.

I think that was the point of Paul’s dissertation on the topic. We need to love people, and let that love produce results in our lives and our actions. My point is that we think it’s OK to love someone but not like them, and that’s simply (to me) not OK.

Actions are a demonstration of, but not a definition of, love. John 14:23-24 seems pretty clear that the works are a result of the love.

I’ve seen too many hateful people in churches, doing the right thing, not to speak up when I see any indication that love is defined AS a particular action.

And I really don’t think we disagree, either.

Bob Cleveland’s last blog post..I Went For Lunch; What I Had Was Church

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