Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. – John 14:21
My regular readers have heard me talk about my rescued English setter mixes, Churchill and Pepper. Churchill, part border collie, is the brains of the two. He also is a mama’s boy and will anything short of willingly getting a bath to make me happy.
Then there’s Pepper. Pepper is sweet and affectionate and somewhat cognitively challenged. And she obeys well – until she’s outside. Try getting her in the house from a 1 1/2-acre yard with hundreds of trees behind which she can hide.
We’ve tried acting like idiots: “PEPPER! PEPPER! PEPPER!!” we shout excitedly as we jump and clap and contort our faces. (These are moments when we’re thankful for our remote location.) We’ve tried tricking her: “Daddy’s home!” we shout, though Daddy has been home all evening.
And we’ve tried food. And you know what? She actually will wait to hear what I’m offering before she’ll come, as if to ask, “What’s in it for me?”
As one who has always had obedient dogs, I hired a trainer to come to our house and help work with her. “She doesn’t trust you,” he said. And what a lesson that is for all of us.
We don’t obey God because we don’t trust Him. Jesus was even more blunt: He said those who love Him obey Him. If the converse is true, that means those who don’t love Him don’t obey Him.
He promises to “open the windows of heaven” and “pour out a blessing until it overflows” (Malachi 3:10) if we are faithful to tithe. Yet many of us aren’t. Church ministries are paring back, meaning fewer people can be reached for Christ.
He tells not to forsake gathering together (Hebrews 10:25) – in other words, to go to church. This is for our own benefit and also for the edification of others. Yet our pews are increasingly empty.
He asks us not to love the world or anything in the world (1 John 2:15), yet Christians blend in with the crowd in a day when we desperately need to lead it to our Savior.
He commands us to “do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14), but we are quick to find fault and issue judgment, creating enmity where there should be harmony.
He wants us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) while we turn a deaf ear to those who are crying out for help and support.
He commands us to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), but we shirk our duty because we don’t have the gift of evangelism or an outgoing personality.
If you were to see Pepper around us, you would be convinced she loves us. But if she doesn’t trust us, her love is not perfect. God’s Word assures me this is true.
Perfect love casts out fear. – 1 John 4:18
When you find yourself waffling about submitting to the Lord, imagine yourself as Peter, who – after denying Christ three times – found Himself answering the same question we can ask ourselves today:
“Do you love Me?” – John 21:17