“If you love me you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will send you another Advocate, to be with you forever.” (John 14:15-16)
If you’re like me, you read or hear verses like these from the Gospel last week and you find yourself saying, “Yeah yeah, I’ve heard that. I get it. Love Jesus. Be like him. Something about the Spirit. Moving on.” It’s easy to just gloss over them because they are kind of the crux of the Christian faith, right? We meet this Jesus and then we go about trying to live how he asks us too and we know that at moments along the way there’s this Holy Spirit — ever within us, being our help, guiding us into truth.
But maybe it’s easy to gloss over these kinds of verses because they are actually pretty troubling. I’ve been at this Jesus way of living for awhile now and most of the time I don’t think I look much like him. I actually find myself fighting him, “I know you say to treat people with love and kindness, but do you SEE THAT PERSON AND HOW CRAZY THEY ARE?” I stumble and fumble and wander this way and that all the time. I struggle sometimes with the same old sins. I get easily frustrated with friends and strangers alike. I am quick to judge the intentions of others. And before you know it I’ve left the Spirit out of it entirely and I’m playing a measuring up game with myself. You got that one right – plus one point. You should really pride yourself for that moment. You got that one wrong – minus one point. I can’t believe you call yourself a Christian.
Why? Why do we do that with ourselves?
I found Dave’s encouragement to us this weekend so refreshing because it took me out of the measuring up game and seemed much more like an invitation to simply fall in love with Jesus, over and over and over again. All we’re really after in the end is to know that we are okay, that we’re loved an accepted, that we have a place to belong. And finding that is truly to give ourselves over to the Father, through the resurrected Son, by the power and freedom of the Spirit.
Jesus invites us, after all, into a relationship with himself. He isn’t playing games with us, like we so often trick ourselves into believing but he simply says, come and be with me, the rest will order itself. Loving someone just automatically produces obedience. Loving someone means that we find ourselves to be safe, which opens us up to be honest and true with the other. Loving someone means that we want what they want. The way into that love is through the person of Christ, who shows us the face of the Father and makes us alive through his Spirit.
So today, I hope and pray that we may all stop playing these goofy Christian games and we’d simply give ourselves over to the one who loves us, who wants our good, who isn’t measuring our every move but is instead inviting us to remember who we are and to rest in the fact that he is ordering our days.
Peace be with you,