Catch the Current
God's Love Language
There is no promise of Christ's more exciting or intriguing than this one. I have pondered it and poured over it for several years and it still leaves me absolutely fascinated with its sheer challenge and invitation.
I am convinced it's no accident that only John, of all the Gospel writers, recorded these words of Christ. You won't find them in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. Was it because they had never heard these words? Could it be that no other living witness had relayed such an amazing promise to them? Or did the other Gospel writers group these words with the many others of Christ that they just wouldn't have room for in their limited accounts? Were these verses left out for the sake of brevity?
Not only did John catch the principle contained in this passage, but he experienced in a most powerful manner the realization of its promise. Somehow along John's journey with Jesus, in some profound way, he discovered the fact that obedience to God inspired by love for God is what God wants the most from our lives. John found that when a man or woman begins to walk in loving responsiveness to the will and the voice of God, a powerful friendship is forged. As a result, Jesus said the one who "has my commands" and "obeys them" will experience the love of God and, he said, "[I will] show myself to him." Interesting, isn't it that the only Gospel writer who remembered to record these words of Jesus was also the only one who saw the Revelation of Jesus Christ as John did on the Isle of Patmos?
All through Scripture we see obedience and faith as the magnets within man that draw God near. After all, among all the people on the planet whom God could have chosen to initially bless and whose seed would become God's favored nation, why did he choose Abraham? The Scripture tells us. It was his great faith in God. Put differently, it was his responsiveness to the Word and to the voice of God in and around his life. Abraham was someone who apparently spoke God's love language. And, remember, Abraham was called "the friend of God" (Jam. 2:23).
God Finds It Irresistible
So then, what does God find irresistible? To what attitudes and dispositions in man is he the most drawn? Yes, I recognize our depravity, that man is basically sinful and alienated from God. Still, the fact remains that God had to start somewhere as he began his plan of redeeming mankind. What characterized the key people he chose? One cannot consider such a question without taking note of two people who evidently captured God's attention, one man and one woman; one in the Old Testament and the other, in the New. This week, let's consider the man who caught the attention of God, someone who spoke God's love language.
Abraham, of course, is the man who uniquely captured God's attention in the Old Testament. In a sense you might say that it all began with Abraham, especially with regard to Israel's history. This man exhibited such a faith in God that it was credited to him as righteousness. The entire book of Romans, as well as the Protestant Reformation led centuries later by Martin Luther, was predicated on the premise of his life: "The just shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:17).
Abraham lived by faith, and God noticed. When the Lord commanded Abraham to move to a land he did not know, Abe packed up and followed without a map, without any specifics, simply on the basis of a word . . . but not just any word, the Word of God. When the Lord spoke and told Abraham that he and his wife would have a son, Abraham trusted.
Once the miracle son came, however, God called Abraham to take Isaac to a mountain and there to sacrifice him, to give him back to God. Just before the knife pierced the promise child's flesh, the angel of the Lord stayed his hand. What Abraham was about to do would not seem logical, prudent, or beneficial by human standards. He did not obey because it made sense but because God had spoken. "Whoever has my commands and obeys them . . ."
You might say that Abraham almost rhythmically responded to the will of God. God spoke a word and Abraham adjusted his life to follow it. Over and over again, the pattern continued. Abraham almost danced in response to the lead of God. God's word said, "Step this way," and Abraham did. He lived a responsive obedience. He spoke God's love language. As a result of Abraham's faith, God promised to make him the "father of nations" and to make his seed like the stars of the sky and the sands of the beach (Gen. 15:5).
My friend Frank went to great lengths to discover Sherry's love language. After he found it, he never stopped speaking it. They are still married today and pastoring a church together.
Jesus also went to great lengths to tell us the love language of God. Apparently, John the Beloved was listening closely. He may have been the only one who was.
Robert Crosby is an author and Professor of Practical Theology at Southeastern University. Read his interview with Bobby Gruenewald, the Founder of YouVersion.com (the Bible App) and related articles at Christianity Today—The New Engagers and The Social Network Gospel.
Robert Crosby is the author of the new book, The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration (Abingdon Press). Crosby's column, "Catch the Current," is published every other Tuesday on the Evangelical portal. Subscribe via email or RSS.