In John’s gospel, Jesus encourages us to remain in His love. This statement has caused a lot of consternation among Christians. We are told that we cannot earn God’s love but this verse appears to contradict it. Surely doing something to remain in His love is earning it, or is it?
I once knew a lady with a small, but very loved family. She doted on her children. She cooked for them. She cleaned for them. She washed their clothes. She cleared up after them. She was there with a shoulder to cry on, and a listening ear. She gave them advice, sometimes they listened, and sometimes they didn’t. The children were happy and loved.
Then one day, as the children of this woman became adults, one of them got caught up with a bad crowd. She started to experiment with drugs. She began spending more and more time with these new ‘friends’. Soon she ended up living in a squat, thieving to pay for food, drink, drugs, in fact anything that would numb the pain of living in this hellish existence. Even in this miserable state, she didn’t go home. She remained with those who were in the same mess as her, each of them desperate in their pain.
Her mother still loved her. In fact, she loved her so much her heart ached, but she could no longer do any of the things she used to do for her daughter as the sphere of her love only reached so far. As an adult, her daughter had freedom to make her own decisions. She made some bad ones, which led her away from her mother‘s house and her loving reach.
This is what we are warned about in John’s gospel. The love of God for us knows no limits in its depth. It never decreases, but we can step out of its influence. We can make choices that draw us away from God‘s loving embrace. He loves us from a distance, because our choices led us away, but he never takes His eyes off the road that would lead us back home. He waits ready to embrace us, and welcome us into the influence of His love once more.
So this, I believe, is the purpose of Jesus’ call:
‘If you keep My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.’(John 15:10)
God doesn’t stop loving us when we disobey Him, but our bad choices distance us from the embrace of His love.
If today you are in the embrace of His love, I want to encourage you to remain there. Walk by the Spirit. Obey His commands. Love God and love people.
If you have found yourself outside of His love, He is waiting for your return with open arms.
‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ‘ (1 John 1:9)
Like the Father in the story of the prodigal son, He welcomes us home, once more into the comforting embrace of His love.
How has the understanding of God’s love for you affected your life? Please leave a comment below.
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