Show me that you love me
Love = change.
It’s easy to say that we love Jesus. It’s even easier to sing about it. But what does it look like to really love Jesus? What marks a life lived in obedient love?
Not the superficial change of flimsy willpower or stuttering resolve. But real, heart-transforming, grace-driven, love-fuelled change that shapes a life from the ground up.
When we sing about our love for Jesus on a Sunday only to make a mockery of it every other day of the week; we drag Him through the mud of our selfish, lazy, unrepentant hearts.
This is not love.
Perhaps then, it isn’t really Jesus that we love. Perhaps what we really love is an excuse to live an unchanged life, guilt free. Perhaps we get so excited on a Sunday because of the cheap grace we think is on offer from our old friend, meek and mild Jesus - just enough to dull our itchy consciences after another week of rolling in the mud. This is not grace.
“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession...
Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Before you say yes, again, to that same old sin, without thinking or flinching, remember what it cost the person that you profess to love. Remember what Jesus had to say yes to, for you to be free of it.
He said yes to His body being ruined in bloody agony. He said yes to His life being torn from His trembling limbs. He said yes to His spirit being separated from His Father. When on the cross Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, He experienced the meaninglessness of having no God in His life - separation after an eternity of perfect union. He took our curse from us. He accepted the complete futility that we deserve, so that we could instead be forgiven and embraced by God. He was cast out so that we could be brought in, and He said yes to all of it, because He loves us.
Real grace cost more than we will ever know. How then, do we respond? Do we continue on into Monday, itchy conscience scratched, blissful in our ‘ignorance’?
These words are like a hot poker to the soul. They should scorch away, what John Piper calls, ‘The great evangelical error of our day’.
“The great error says faith in God is one thing and the fight for holiness is another thing.
Faith gets you to heaven and holiness gets you rewards... This is the great evangelical error of our day. The battle for obedience is optional, they say, because only faith is necessary for salvation.
Our response is that the battle for obedience is absolutely necessary for salvation because it IS the fight of faith. The battle is absolutely necessary for salvation because it is the battle against unbelief.” John Piper.
If we believe, we fight, because we truly love. If we truly love, our obedient fight will shape the way we live. If we don’t, it won’t.
This battle for daily obedience is motivated by love. Love-fuelled faith that transforms our lives from the inside out.
So, what does it look like to really love Jesus? What marks a life lived in obedient love?
Have you nailed the passions and desires of your sinful nature to the cross and crucified them there?
Have you allowed real grace and a genuine love for Jesus to saturate and shape your life so that it is in conflict with sin, structured apart from sin, positioned away from sin?
Does your life tell the story of your love for Him?
Sorry, not sorry
When we do sin, we shouldn’t be sorry merely because we’re scared of being found out. We should be sorry because our actions have inflicted grievous pain on the love of our lives.
We should have no desire to do the things He had to die for.
“Wisdom requires a genuine hatred of wrongdoing, not just a calculated avoidance of it out of self-interest. The dread of punishment only makes us self-absorbed - worried about being hurt. The true fear of the Lord serves Him out of joy and high appreciation for who He is.
There is no wise living unless we have a relationship with Him, one in which we obey Him out of love for who He is.
Do you refrain from sins mainly because you hate their consequences? Or do you refrain out of distaste for the sins themselves, as they grieve and offend God?” Tim Keller.
As we begin to know God more intimately and share His heart more passionately, the idea of indulging in sin should become a source of gut-wrenching pain and disgust.
If we’re living in loving obedience to Jesus, sanctification slows our 0-100 sprint towards sin. But until the day we die, it will always be an ever present threat - an ancient dragon, only playing dead. The things that you ignore as they creep into your mind become the things you begin to dwell on, which become the things you let yourself see, which become the things you actively seek out, which become the things you do.
Don’t flirt with sin. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t try and tame it. Kill it, dead.
Stop at the first step. Don’t play with it. Don’t dwell in it. Don’t entertain it for one second. Not today. Banish it from your mind.
When it hurts, when it’s hard, when it costs - show Him that you love Him. Let your life be your love letter to Him, not just your words.
Through love-fuelled faith in Jesus you can lead a God centred life. This is the real miracle of grace. It is so much more than a cheap tonic. You really can be free from sin. Jesus died so that you can say no to it. He won the victory over it - there is now no longer any requirement for you to say yes to its commands.
He suffered in the dark so you could live in the light. He experienced absolute futility outside of God, so that what you now do with Him can count forever.
You can now know that every action is a way to honour and glorify Him.
Don’t just say that you love Him. Go and live like it.