Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so I have 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. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”
It may seem strange to find the words ‘love’ and ‘commandment’ in the same sentence. That strangeness is evidence that they have been separated in our experience. But they are not necessarily separated in themselves. To take an illustration from far afield: in the Baha’i scriptures God says, “Know assuredly that my commandments are the lamps of my loving providence among my servants, and the keys of my mercy for my creatures.” This is similar to psalm 118, “Your law is a lamp for my steps and a light for my path.”
When we want to use a word to say something about God we should first take out the poison. There’s a fair chance that everyone has had people in authority over them who did not love them. That's the source of the poison: the absence of love. But God is love (1 John 4:8; 4:16), so God’s commandments must be acts of love. Think of a key moment in your childhood when your father or your mother showed you how to do something. I remember such a moment vividly. When I think of my father I remember that moment, though he has been dead for thirty years. There were probably many such moments with both my parents, but this is the vivid one. I believe such moments have great healing power. Perhaps that's why they were given us. One of the most damaged parts of us is the will, and probably the worst wounds we have sustained have been inflicted by the wounded wills of others.
Love is an act of the will, the mediaeval theologians said. By that they did not mean that it was a forced thing, but that it came from the most vital and focused part of a person. We need to ‘abide’ in the love of Christ. That's the best intensive care unit for a badly mangled will.
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