I enjoy a good movie…problem for me is that my attention span is so short that I have to watch movies with lots of action to keep me watching. If some kind of gun blasting, car crashing, ceiling walking, space ship zooming action isn’t taking place every 3 minutes or so I can’t be bothered to watch.
Even in an action flick, if the hero of that movie all of a sudden pulls out a picnic basket while in the park with his girlfriend, that’s my cue to go to the fridge.
On the other hand my wife & daughter can sit together and become completely enthralled with a bunch of women on the screen sitting around a table for hours just talking about …stuff. One of their favourite genres is these romantic movies where they end up living “happily ever after”.
It’s that stereotypical ending, the one where the Cowboy hero and his girl ride off into the sunset, the credits moving up the screen, the music fading as they disappear over the horizon into bliss and joy, while my dear women folk weep, not like they hadn’t seen a million of these before.
As the screen goes blank the movie is done and the understanding is that the Cowboy and his girl are now forever happy, the rest of their lives wrapped up in this crazy love for each other, blissful and joyous, sacrificing everything forever for each other, beautiful, glorious, sounds so wonderful. But come on, who really lives that way?
Let’s revisit the couple an hour or so after the credits have gone up. An hour later after we have all gone home from the movie theatre they are still riding. She’s getting a little sore by now from that saddle, hanging on to sweaty Tarzan in front, she’s starts to ask him about where they’re going, when will they stop, where’s the next bathroom, do these boots make her look fat.
Meanwhile, he needs his ego stroked again. That question “did you like how I took care of the bad guys?” after two hours is starting to get kinda old. Then she brings up the fact that they have to go to her side of the family for Christmas in Texas this year even though he had promised his grandma that they’d be at her place in New Mexico.
She suddenly whips out the honey dew list for all the chores that need to be done when they get home, that’s if this beast ever speeds up. He meanwhile, just wants some peace and quiet to watch the Buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play.
“I knew it!” I knew it! I knew that they couldn’t really live that way”
We may or may not receive some small satisfaction that they didn’t live that happy ever after. But most of us would have that hope or wish that it be so, that it just might work, this time at least.
In real life, when the world observes prominent Christians fail, there is sometimes that sentiment, “I knew it!” I knew it! I knew that they couldn’t really live that way” And many times we Jesus followers succumb to that in our own hearts and we agree, “Yes your right, it all sounds good but no one really lives that way”
But what if it was possible? What if we could have a love relationship with God where we lived life in obedience to him and in a love relationship with our neighbour and fellow church folks? And those relationships of love and obedience will not only be a reality, but will grow richer and fuller and deeper in spite of the struggles and challenges we face daily? What if we could actually live that way? Live lives that actually expressed the fruit of the Spirit, loving with abandon, completely and fully, and with everything we got, bringing glory to God as a result?
The truth is this type of life is not only probable, but absolutely and completely possible for you and me right now – today – this moment and then every moment hereafter if we simply learn three things.
Prove Your Love
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. – John 14:15-17
I am reminded of a story in which two ladies were standing in the entrance of one of their homes talking when suddenly the teenage son of one of the mothers appears from the kitchen dressed in a freshly pressed shirt, clean and fitted jeans, scrubbed face and hair though messed up messed up with a purpose. As he rushes towards the front door, he pauses long enough to plant a kiss on his mother’s cheek as he heads outside.
The visiting neighbour couldn’t help to comment “How do you get your son to dress so nicely in such nice clean clothes and scrubbed face and looking so good?” To which the mother replied, “Actually I had nothing to do with that… it is amazing even to me that what I have been trying to get him to do for the past 18 years, another pair of blue eyes and long blonde hair could get him to do with just the tilt of her head and a smile on her face.”
This guy didn’t get himself all cleaned up because he was commanded to; he did what he needed to do because he wanted to. I think that’s a bit of what we see here in verse 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. We begin first with a love relationship which then causes a change in heart or a transformation in our mind to the point where we can’t help but want to obey Jesus’ commands.
The emphasis is not Prove to me that you love me by obeying me. The focus is put on to the love part of the relationship as in, “If you love me you will want to obey my commands.”
When it comes to our relationship with Jesus, we must begin to live our lives of obedience not because it’s commanded, but rather because we can’t help ourselves. Remember that, “Christ’s love compels us”. – 2 Corinthians 5:14
Just Do It!
As a parent, I continue to learn the art of communication through daily interactions with my children, most noticeably the art of clarity. I’m sure this only happens in my house but on occasion my wife & I will return home from being away for an evening only to discover that the dishes hadn’t been done (we have a dishwasher) or that the basement is a complete mess and nothing has been put away.
I understand that being a teenager is all about sleep, eating, connecting with friends through Facebook, texts and phone calls, watching TV, eating, playing video games and eating (I have two teenage boys), after all what else is there? But when I comment about the fact that nothing was done regarding making their world, within the house, a better place for ‘all’ and that my expectation was that it should have been done, whether it be dishes or cleaning up after themselves, I have often heard the response, “But dad, you didn’t tell me to do it.”
Interesting how their entertainments and other priorities didn’t have to be dictated clearly to them but the other stuff was not acted on because it ‘apparently’ wasn’t so clearly said. But reading John chapter 14 and more specifically verse 15 made me wonder how often I do that to God. “If you love me, you will keep my commands.”
Though I wouldn’t necessarily say it, I too often find myself acting like I’m waiting for God to bring clarity about what I need to do for him, to have him reveal his call on my life instead of just doing what I know needs to happen in my life to obey him.
I’m not talking about making a decision concerning whether or not we should be heading out to the mission field, but what I am talking about is living out our faith in action in the everyday.
I think too many of us use the “I’m waiting to hear God’s will for my life” as a means of avoiding action. Did you hear him tell you to watch TV or exercise or go on that last vacation? Probably not but you still did it. Those other things aren’t wrong, but I find it interesting in how we seem to be able to rationalize our entertainment & other priorities but can be so slow to commit to serving God.
Just look around us. There are myriads of opportunities to obey God. But the first obedience is to learn to love him. Begin to love him by getting to know him. Read his word, spend time talking to him while you drive around in your car or get ready for work in the morning. Don’t wait to get ready to be ready to find a place to wait to be ready, instead talk to him even now while you read this post – bottom line is just do it! Just begin and get rid of excuses for not getting to know him and thereby learn to love him.
Rely on the Holy Spirit
I know this love thing is tough. In fact much too often we see people who profess love but don’t display it. They don’t display it because this love thing is tougher than we think.
Love that results in obedience isn’t an easy thing and that is why we see in verse 16 that Jesus leaves us a helper. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth.”
The word helper comes from the Greek work “Parakletos” which means quite literally “someone who is called in” … a ringer if you will. To the hearers of Jesus’ day, they would have understood immediately what Jesus was saying about this parakletos or helper he promised.
A Parakletos might be a person called in to give witness in a court of law in someone’s favour; he might be an advocate called in to plead someone’s case; he might be an expert called in to give advice in some difficult situation. He might be a person called in when, for example, a company of soldiers were depressed and dispirited to put new courage into their minds and hearts. Always though a Parakletos is someone called in to help when the person who calls him is in trouble or distress or doubt or bewildered.
What Jesus is saying is this: “I’m giving you a hard task to do… this love thing… It’s a very difficult assignment but has to get done. So I’m going to send you someone, the parakletos, In this case it is the Holy Spirit who will be there for you and who will guide you to what you need to do to make this happen and will also enable you to do it”.
Who really lives this way?
So back to the original question I asked, just who really lives this way? The credits move up the screen at the end of our life’s movie – the music fades away and we discover that we live that way by loving God with everything we’ve got.
And how does that happen? It happens as we get to know him. Read his word, pray, hang out with others who love God, join a community of other believers learning to love him, rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and ask him to help us and he will as he promised. He will be your Parakletos, and what will we discover as we live his way? We discover that we are living lives that express the fruit of the Spirit, loving with abandon, completely and fully, and with everything we got, bringing glory to God as a result.