Too many rules. 

Ever thought that about religion? Go to church, pray, read your Bible. And that’s just the easy stuff.  Think about the list that many of us have in our heads.

“Love others, forgive those who hurt you, pray for those who persecute you, have joy, be patient, stay faithful, be gentle with your words, give to the hurting, tithe, live in peace, serve in your church, be kind to everyone on the freeway, go to church every week, read your Bible every day, pray without ceasing, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t chew, don’t go with girls that do, and confess your sins every night for if you don’t, you might wake up in hell. God bless!”

(excerpt from Justice.Mercy.Humility. Click here to order a copy)

We all want to know what we have to do to remain in God’s good graces.

Jesus sums it up in a rather shocking way.  While seated around the last supper, he is talking about obeying his commands, remaining in him, obeying his father, to which all of the disciples must have been thinking about the 10 commandments and the 600+ laws the Jews had just to make sure they kept the 10 commandments.  

“When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.”

But then he says something that is rather confusing.

“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”

The law never really brought joy. It might have brought order and clear boundaries, but joy was probably not at the top of the “pros” list. Then Jesus drops their jaws when he gives them a NEW commandment.

“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” John 15:10-12

No one can give commands but God himself.  And Jesus once again declares his divinity by showing he can forgive sins, heal the sick, raise the dead, calm the storms and now even give commands.  And not just give a new command, but to reduce all the commands to one thing: Love others the way I’ve loved you.

But play this out… if we truly loved others the way he’s loved us – forgive, encourage, empower, assume the best, extend justice and mercy all in a spirit of humility – I think we’d not only bring joy to others, but we would also be filled with joy. 

Today, instead of focusing on all the things you THINK you have to do to remain in God’s good graces… choose to love others the way he’s loved you.  

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