PFOA : John 15:9-16

John 15:9-16

When you think about God, do you think of him as a friend or as a judge? How would you answer the question, “Is God’s love conditional or unconditional?” In fact, when we say, “God is love”, what are we really saying about God?

The Bible speaks of God’s love in at least five ways:

#1 The love of the Father for the Son and the love of the Son for the Father, (Jn. 3:35, 5:20, 14:31).

#2 God’s providential love for his creation, (Gen. 1).

#3 God’s saving love for the fallen world, (Jn. 3:16).

#4 God’s electing love for those to be saved, (Mal. 1:2,3, Eph. 5:25).

#5 God’s love directed to those who obey him, (Jude 21, Jn. 15:9).

Our passage touches on #1, #4 and #5.

John, the Apostle of Love, had much to say about God is love. He wrote, “the Father loves the Son”, using agapao in Jn. 3:35 and phileo in Jn. 5:20. Reciprocally, Jesus loves (agapao) the Father (Jn. 14:31).

The expression of love needs an object to be loved. The love of God is an eternal attribute. The Son is pre-existent with the Father and is the object of the Father’s love before there was anything else. Christian monotheism is distinguished from that of the Jews or Muslims because there is one God existing as three persons. Love exists in community and in the triune God there is perfect community and perfect love.

In Jn. 15:19, Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love”. The love with which Jesus loves us is the same love with which God the Father loves Jesus, his one and only begotten Son. Because the Father loves the Son, Jesus communicates or mediates that love of the Father to us.

We should pause and reflect on what kind of love this is. The love of the father who works in the fields without shoes so that the son has shoes to go to school; or the poor mother who prepares a meal for her child while she herself goes without; are but a shadow of the love of God the Father who gave his Son to bear the penalty of our sins and the love of Jesus who died in our place. This is the love with which Jesus loves us and wants us to remain in. This is no sentimental emotion, but a determination of the will. This is the love Jesus extends to his disciples to remain in.

There is a condition to be met in order to remain or abide in his love. We, on our part, are to keep his commandments. To remain in God’s love requires our obedience to his commandments. Jesus has set the example. Was being obedient to the Father burdensome? Certainly it involved intense pain and suffering, but it was also a joy. So he tells us, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (v. 11). This is the love God directs to the obedient disciple.

Yet is God’s love conditional on our performance? Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you”, (v.16). We are comforted and encouraged by the realisation that even before the foundation of the world we have been chosen by God, (Eph. 1:4,5). This is the sovereign choice of God as seen, for example, when he chose to show love to Jacob, (Mal. 1:2,3). Jesus has chosen to love us, to die for us and to call us his friends. He discloses to us all about the Father, and calls us to obey him. This friendship is not reciprocal - he desires obedience from us; we cannot demand that he does what we want. However, he loved us and died for us – do we love him enough to live and even die for him? And he gives us his joy to overflowing fullness.

• We thank God that we know and have received the love of God (#1, #4, #5).
• Let our lives show God’s love for his creation (#2).
• Let us pray for and share the message of God’s love for fallen mankind (#3).

Tony Chan