“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
—John 14:21, NIV
Suppose a UFO landed in your backyard, and an alien emerged and promised to take you and as many of your friends as you could convince to a better world where you would live forever. Wouldn’t you drop everything you were doing and start packing and making phone calls? Suppose you won several million dollars in the state lottery, so that you no longer needed to work. Perhaps you wouldn’t quit your job right away, but wouldn’t you see office politics, raises and reviews, and rumors of layoffs with a new sense of objective detachment?
So shouldn’t Jesus have the same sort of effect on your priorities as seeing a UFO or winning the lottery? If He hasn’t, why not?
In John, Jesus takes the prophecy of Isaiah one step further. He expands on something that Isaiah implies: that our Messiah will deal with us not just corporately, but individually as well. Moses saved the children of Israel en masse; he lead them out of bondage and guided them through the desert. He administered God’s laws among them and judged their disputes, but He did this for the people as a whole; he did not have a personal relationship with each member of each of the twelve tribes, he was not there to make little suggestions here and there and prod them gently on the way—in fact, he even delegated quite a lot of his authority to a system of judges. I’m certain that most of the people never came into personal contact with Moses, the viewed him from afar during special assemblies.
In contrast, Jesus promises to walk with each of us in our daily lives, to fulfill for us on an individual as well as a corporate basis the promise that Isaiah made. He is the voice in our ear telling us the way to go, and if we go the right way, He even promises to manifest Himself in our lives. We do not see Him just from afar, as the Hebrews saw Moses when they assembled for meetings in the wilderness, we don’t just see Him through the pages of the New Testament or in the craftsmanship of the universe or the orthodoxy of our doctrines; we can see Him here and now in our individual lives. He does not need to delegate this task to a network of intermediaries; He relates to us each, great and small, on an equal individual basis.
Some Christians emphasize the intellectual mastery of doctrine and scriptural truth. Other Christians emphasize the preservation of historic Christian traditions and teachings. Still other Christians emphasize carrying out God’s commandments in service to the community. And then there are those who seek His numinous presence through worship and devotion. Taken separately, our pursuits are unbalanced, but fitted together in Christian fellowship, we complement each other as diverse members of one body; each in his strength sustaining the others in their weaknesses.
But today I exhort you theologians to lay your study materials aside for a moment. I urge you conservators of tradition to look up from your books. I request you servants and missionaries to take a short break from your labors. Stop to worship Him and seek His presence; seek His face and listen for His voice. If you cannot see or hear Him, examine your hearts, reconsider your theology, reevaluate your traditions, reexamine your activities, and find out why you are deaf and blind.
For if you truly love Him, you will keep His commandments; and if you keep His commandments He will love you and manifest Himself to you; you will hear His voice saying, “This is the way,” whenever you turn to the right or the left, and you will see His face.