Discover Abiding Love

Discover Abiding Love

“The person that has my commandments, and keeps them, is the one who loves me: and the one that loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). “If a man loves me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will make our abode with him” (John 14:23).

Jesus is speaking to his disciples just before his final trial and the beginning of their biggest trials. In the days to come their own fears and doubts will be tested. The three years of teaching and fellowship, even the new commandment he gave will be lost to their thoughts. And the temptation of anger and bitterness for how the Jewish and Roman authorities will treat their Rabbi Messiah will be unthinkable.

These men, filled with guilt and shame because of the trials, would think little of love for God and others, but instead of loss, disgrace and trepidation for their futures and the impact on their families. This future they now faced was much different than they imagined. They were ordinary men who would be exalted to a place of authority in the Messiah’s kingdom. But instead the Messiah is leaving them with a gift that becomes a pathway to his living in them: the commandment to love.

We lose sight of God’s abiding presence when our minds are focused on problems instead of God’s promises. COVID-19, the fires, racial and political division, even division within the church, imprisons our attention. These men will later learn that “perfect love cast out all fear” when the source of love abides in them. Jesus gave them an eternal truth that none realized until the resurrection: “the one that loves me will be loved by my Father and I will love them and show myself to them”; even to the point of living in them.

The difficulties of the present and days ahead will fill our minds with doubt and our hearts with fear if we abide outside of God’s love. Jesus told them: “in the last days men hearts will fail them because of fear.” Fear aims its arrows at our vulnerabilities, but the command to love swings our focus to God and others. We might be engrossed in the same work, but the fruit of our labor will be very different. That which is done in fear may have temporary benefits, but that in done in love benefits us and others now and for eternity.

We cannot avoid the challenges of the future. Either the love of Christ is manifested in our lives or the bondage of fear will drain our souls. What is possible is the freedom and rest that comes with obedience to love as he loves us. We get tired of hearing this cliché. For some it is just more Christian rhetoric. But Jesus revelation of himself and the father are all aligned with our obedience to his command to love. When we do so: “my Father will love you and we will make our dwelling with you.” May Christ dwell in our hearts richly as we love and serve one another and our students here at Fresno Pacific University. As discouragement, distrust and disillusionment propagate themselves, let it be said that here at FPU, whether virtual or face-to-face, that comfort, encouragement and most of all love, reign in the people of God. “If God be for us who can be against us” (Romans 8:31).

Connections
Joseph Jones, Ph.D.

Joseph Jones, Ph.D.

President