Imagine turning up for a date with your beloved but instead of an actual person, only their picture stares at you across the table. It’s a sad thought. Why?
Because you only have the memory of love, not the experience of it. You see, we can’t have intimacy without proximity.
The demonstration of love with another person requires a certain proximity to them. Jesus affirms this in John chapter 14. He is reassuring the disciples that – though he will not be with them much longer – the Holy Spirit will soon come and be with them.
But then comes something of a surprise. Not only does love require proximity, it also requires obedience. He says,
“21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me”, and
23 “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.”
Why does Jesus say this? When we speak of God’s love for us and our love for God, we are not talking about love among equals. Frankly, we cannot love God in the same manner that he loves us, and it would be improper for God to love us as we love him.
True, there are similarities. For instance, both ‘loves’ are; focused on the other, have their best intentions at heart and involve sacrifice or the giving of oneself. However, he is our Lord and we are his servants. Our sacrifice is simply what he deserves whereas his sacrifice is quite undeserved.
For this reason, we express our love through obedience and God expresses his love through self-revelation. Put simply,
We give ourselves to God through submission and he gives himself to us through disclosure.
“For God so loved the world, he gave his only Son.” (John 3:16)