The Joy of Love-based Obedience

Written by Rachel Denison

One of my favorite passages of Scripture is John 15. Jesus' account to the Disciples before his crucifixion (John 13-17) is so rich. If you haven't read it lately, I would suggest it. It's one of those passages I make a point to go back and read regularly. 

This morning as I read, I was reminded of some simple, foundational, life-changing truth.

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. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:9-11 ESV)

If I obey God out of love, then shame and fear have no open door or hold on me, and I am fully able to abide/remain in his love. As someone who struggles with entertaining fear and shame, this is liberating to me. Rather than a mantle of shame and fear, God is offering me his very joy overflowing. He is a good God. He is just and kind, merciful and righteous.

Jesus himself commands us to be obedient because he knows disobedience only produces shame and hiding as a natural byproduct. But the natural byproduct of love-based obedience is joy. 

"So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." (1 John 4:16-18 ESV)

Our obedience and abiding in God's commandments must come out of a place of experiencing and deeply knowing the love God has for us-- coming to know and believe. Do you know and believe the love God has for you? If we live in fear-based obedience to whom we believe is an unloving God that will punish us, we will miss out on his joy over-flowing and the sweetness of abiding in him as is explained in John 15 by Jesus.

Don't miss out on this kind of love today! First knowing and believing God's love us and abiding in that love is the key to obeying God. Out of that love Jesus has for us, obedience flows. Living our lives as deeply loved sons and daughters, rather than orphans or slaves, positions us to live lives holy and acceptable to God abiding in his commandments and love. May your joy be full today as you experience God's love and live according to his ways which are not constricting, but life-giving! May our obedience always be a response to the great love we've been shown. This is worship. (Romans 12)