Bible Reading: John 15:9-17
"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)
Where do we seek our joy? Where is our deepest satisfaction?
In this fast-paced world, Satan’s lies and temptations attack us from every corner. Social media and entertainment summon to fulfil our desires. Pride, fame and wealth sell us their fraudulent designs of success. Relationships and other people even, seek to steal our hearts and true joy. Satan knows our weaknesses. He knows where we are most susceptible and in that aspect will he tempt us with idolatry. He will strive to lure our joy, satisfaction, contentment, awe, sense of security, comfort, desire, identity all into anything other than God Himself.
In this world of lies, where is true joy?
The true joy in it’s fullest and ultimate form is a God-given joy, born from abiding in Christ’s love. Keeping Christ’s commandments is abiding in His love. Yet, such commandment-keeping is not of the Pharisee’s nature. It is not a begrudged or unwilling obedience as a result of force. It is obedience born out of awe and honour to the God who has loved us with the Father’s love.
What kind of love is such that springs forth all-satisfying joyful obedience?
It is the love of the Father to the Son, which has been passed down to us. This is a profound love! Hear how Matthew Henry puts it:
“As the Father loved him, who was most worthy, he loved them, who were most unworthy. The Father loved him as his Son, and he loves them as his children.” (Matthew Henry Commentary on John 15:9-17)
It is the Father’s holy and perfect love intended for His worthy Son, given to us the unworthy. It is the Father’s love to His perfect Son, given to us sinful enemies of God. Christ loves us with love only fit for Himself to receive. Such love was manifest on the cross, where he “lay down His life for His friends” (John 15:13). And just “what is the breadth and length and height and depth” (Eph 3:18) of such love which “surpasses knowledge”, we fail to understand. Yet, let us pray just how Paul prays for the church in Ephesus, that we may comprehend and grasp the love of God and “be filled with all the fullness of God.” When we abide and place our identity in God’s surpassing love for us, there, there is a real joy.
Abiding, however, does not equate to acknowledgment. To admit God loves me is different to abiding in His love. To abide is to live by and to place a whole trust. When we abide in His love, we not only acknowledge the depth of His love, but we live in response to such love through obedience. What does obedience look like?
Christ calls for obedience that is just like His to His Father. Obedience is not ‘tick the boxes in the rulebook’. Obedience is a wholehearted total surrender from a selfish desire to God’s perfect and holy will. As Christ emptied Himself to death on a cross, so are we to deny ourself and bear our cross. Yet, see Christ’s attitude, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Heb 12:2 emphasis added).
The path of joy is paradoxical; it’s hard, it’s narrow, yet “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Lord, I do not know how to love You. In this world of lies, my joy and satisfaction have been set on anything apart from You. Please forgive me. Please change my heart and desires to pursue Your path to joy. Help me find my joy and satisfaction in You and Your bountiful love for me. Lord, as You obeyed the Father out of love, even to the point of dying on the cross, teach me to love and obey You. Your love is truly beyond comprehension. Please continue to work out Your love for me by shaping in me a heart that loves and enjoys You alone. Thank You for Your faithfulness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.