Can True Love Be Commanded?
At a time when all of His disciples are feeling as if they are about to be uprooted, Jesus sketches a picture of this new life as a flourishing vineyard—a labyrinth of vines and strong branches steeped in rich soil, abundant grapes hanging from their vines ripening in the sun. Jesus sculpts a new Garden of Eden in their imaginations—one that is bustling with fruit, sustenance, and satisfying aromas.
This is the Kingdom life. It is all about connection, sustenance, and beauty. But within this promise of life is the warning that people must be in Christ or they will not experience these blessings.
Jesus: I have loved you as the Father has loved Me. Abide in My love. Follow My example in obeying the Father’s commandments and receiving His love. If you obey My commandments, you will stay in My love. I want you to know the delight I experience, to find ultimate satisfaction, which is why I am telling you all of this.
John 15:9-11 (VOICE)
When things are going well, we feel elated. When hardships come, we might sink into depression. But true joy transcends the rolling waves of circumstance. Joy comes from a consistent relationship with Jesus Christ.
When our lives are intertwined with His, He will help us walk through adversity without sinking into debilitating lows and manage prosperity without moving into deceptive highs. The joy of living with Jesus Christ daily will keep us levelheaded, no matter how high or low our circumstances.
Friends—We Must Obey
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.
John 15:12-14 (NLT)
Most of us have many acquaintances but very few friends, and even some of our friends may prove unfriendly or even unfaithful.
What about Judas?
“Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me.”
Even a devoted friend may fail us when we need them most. Peter, James, and John went to sleep in the Garden when they should have been praying; and Peter even denied the Lord three times. Our friendship to each other and to the Lord is not perfect, but His friendship to us is perfect.
We are to love each other as Jesus loved us, and he loved us enough to give his life for us. We may not have to die for someone, but there are other ways to practice sacrificial love:
- Encouraging, and
Think of someone in particular who needs this kind of love today. Give all the love you can and then try to give a little more.
No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
John 15:15 (NKJV)
Because Jesus Christ is Lord and Master, he should call us servants; instead, he calls us friends. How comforting and reassuring to be chosen as Christ’s friends! We owe him our unqualified obedience, but Jesus asks us to obey him because we love him.
However, we must not interpret this word friend in a limited way, because the Greek word means “a friend at court.” It describes that “inner circle” around a king or emperor. The “friends of the king” would be close to him and know his secrets, but they would also be subject to him and have to obey his commands. There is thus no conflict between being a friend and being a servant.
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.
John 15:16-17 (NKJV)
How is it possible for Jesus to command us to love one another?
Can true love be commanded?
You must keep in mind that Christian love is not basically a “feeling”; it is an act of the will. The proof of our love is not in our feelings but in our actions, even to the extent of laying down our lives for Christ and for one another (1 John 3:16). Jesus laid down His life for both His friends and His enemies! (Rom.5:10) While the emotions are certainly involved, real Christian love is an act of the will. It means treating others the way God treats us.
So, our friendship with Christ involves love and obedience. But it also involves knowledge: He “lets us in on” His plans. Indeed, He is our Master (John 13:13, 16), but He does not treat us as servants. He treats us as friends, if we do what He commands. Abraham was God’s friend because he obeyed God (Gen. 18:19).
If we have friendship with the world, we then experience enmity with God (James 4:1-4). Lot in Sodom was not called God’s friend, even though Lot was a saved man (2 Peter 2:7). God told Abraham what He planned to do to the cities of the plain, and Abraham was able to intercede for Lot and his family.
One of the greatest privileges we have as His friends is that of learning to know God better and “getting in on” God’s secrets. We are His friends, and we ought to be near the throne, listening to His Word, enjoying His intimacy, and obeying His commandments.
It is a humbling experience, for He chose us and we did not choose Him. We must keep this in mind lest we become proud and presumptuous. It means that we keep our ears open and listen to what He says to us. “Were you listening at God’s secret council?” (Job 15:8) “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant” (Ps. 25:14). We must be attentive and alert.
But the purposes for all of this is that we might obey Him and get His work done. The King has tasks that must be performed; and if we love Him, we will obey His commands. We will seek to bear fruit that will please Him and glorify the Father. Our joy should be to please Him.
Jesus closed this part of His message by reminding them (and us) of the most important commandment of all: love one another. There are dozens of “one another” statements in the New Testament, but all of them are summarized in “love one another.” Jesus had already given this commandment to the Eleven (John 13:34-35), and now He has repeated it twice (John 15:12, 17).
Christians will get plenty of hatred from the world; from each other we need love and support.
Do you allow small problems to get in the way of loving other believers?
Jesus commands that you love them, and He will give you the strength to do it.
DECLARATION OF FAITH
Jesus loves me in the same way that the Father loves Him. I am like a prize treasure filling His heart with joy. Therefore, I will live in His love – always recognizing and remembering it in all that I do.
I abide in His love by doing those things that He has commanded me to do.
His joy and delight are in me, and my joy and delight are made complete in Him.
This is the commandment that Jesus has given me: that I love my brothers and sisters in Christ just as He has loved me.
There is no greater love in existence then the love that Jesus has for me.
I am his close friend and I continually do what He is commanded me to do. He does not call me a servant, for a servant does not know His masters business. To the contrary, He calls me his close friend and continually reveals to me His will and purpose – even all that He knows.
It wasn’t me who chose Him, but He chose me. He actually picked me to be His friend and brother/sister. He has given me a purpose in my life, to go forth and bear an abundance of lasting and eternal fruit. Whatever I ask of my Father, in Jesus’ name, He gives me.
Jesus has given me the power of attorney to use His name so that I may obtain all that I need in this life.
This is the commandment that Jesus has given me: that I love all of my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I pray this declaration of faith in Jesus’ name!