New Living Translation (NLT)
|photo (c) Nat Arnett|
23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me."
Do you remember the day you first fell in love? Oh, that heady feeling, those overwhelming emotions! Remember how you wanted to spend every moment together? Your entire world seemed to revolve around your new romance. Everything you did throughout your day was with your new love in the back of your mind, wondering if your actions would please him (or her). You wanted nothing more than to make the other person happy.
It's amazing, how strong a love can be, even if you are far apart. Communication is key to learning more about the one you love. It doesn't matter if it's done by hand-written letter, or by email; instant message or text; talking on the phone or from across the dinner table. Sight unseen, love can take root and grow like wild flowers.
In the early stages of a relationship, you do what you can to capture and keep the other person interested. Girls fix their hair, put on makeup, clean the apartment, prepare a delicious meal... I don't know what all guys do before a date. But the whole idea is to impress the other. Hopefully through this process you find the person who makes you complete. You have attained love, now you want to keep that love. So you embark on a lifetime of wedded bliss.
Ok, it won't always be bliss. Every relationship will have some rocky patches, because every person is going to have moments of selfishness. If the love is real, though, there is enough respect between you that you will both open up the lines of communication, apologize when necessary, and renew your commitment. You will both understand that in order to remain in a productive marriage, you must sometimes sacrifice what you each want in order to make the other happy. That's what marriage is, after all. That's what any relationship is. And it takes effort on your part to maintain it.
Our spiritual relationship with Christ is no different. If we love Him, we will do what we know pleases Him, even when the world isn't looking. We'll prove our love for Him through our kindness to others, through our patience with children, through our faithfulness in marriage. We'll show Him our love by putting the needs of others before ourselves. Whatever we do will be a reflection on Him, one that honors His name.
If we really love Him, we'll keep the lines of communication open with Him. We don't have to see Him face to face, we don't have to hear His audible voice... We can keep in daily contact with Him by reading the extensive text messages He has sent us in His Word, the Bible. We can set aside time throughout our day to talk to Him about what is going on in our lives. We don't have to keep secrets from Him. In fact, we can't! He knows everything we say, do, even think, so trying to tell little white lies doesn't work. He requires total honesty. Especially when we hit rocky patches in our spiritual relationship. Don't try to pretend things are OK if they're not, tell Him exactly how you feel! But then don't just expect Him to comfort you, allow Him to! God's love and comfort far surpasses our mate's ability to do the same, because His is perfect and unfailing. He won't force it on you, though, so don't give Him the cold shoulder.
But what happens in a relationship, in a marriage, when two people stop talking and listening to each other? When communication breaks down, the relationship falls apart. Everybody starts pointing fingers and nobody is willing to take the blame. Words suddenly become empty and meaningless. I bet you know exactly what I'm talking about. Those overwhelming feelings of anger, frustration, and pain when someone says "I love you!" even though their actions indicate they couldn't care less. Don't be too hard on them though. If you're over the age of two, I guarantee you've been just as guilty once or twice in your life.
So it is with Jesus. If our spiritual life has gone cold, it's because we have quit showing our love. It doesn't matter how often we attend church, or share Jesus "posters" on Facebook, or even how frequently we listen to Christian radio in the car. If our behavior isn't showing Him how much we love Him, we're just giving Him lip-service. If we going about our lives doing things that we know from His Word disappoint Him, then we're just wasting our breath when we sing His praises.
Look, if we stop talking with God, it had better be because we've only stopped to listen. If we want to remain in His love, He has to remain in ours! His kind of love never gives up on you, so if there is a spiritual breakdown, it's all on you.
New Living Translation (NLT)
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!
If you've let the embers die down, this would be a good time to rekindle the flame. There's no safer place to be than in His love. You can start over. You can open up the lines of communication and show Him you mean it this time. Just remember, actions speak louder than words, so make them count twice.