What does it mean to embrace Jesus or more pointedly what does it mean to love him? Not surprisingly when Jesus addresses that question himself he’ll say things like, “If you love me you’ll keep my commandments.” He doesn’t mean, of course, that to love him you have to earn your way to him. He doesn’t mean that to love him you have to measure up to some insurmountable standard of perfection. No, he means that to love him you have to actually follow him.Even as a growing and mature Christian he has to put to death some latent longing of your own.
To follow him you have to actually listen to him. To listen to him you have to commit to the painstakingly humble task of submitting yourself, your aspirations, your dreams, and your desires to his own way. You will find quite often even as a growing and mature Christian that he has to put to death some latent longing of your own and bring to life some new vision of what flourishing and mission would look like in your in your life.
So, we find that to love Jesus actually means to listen carefully to his word. We also see that Jesus describes the way in which we love him by loving the brothers and the sisters. The kind of love that we are to display for him finds its roots, he prays in John 17, in the way in which we’re one with our fellow Christians. It’s not that the church is perfect. It’s not that they have all the gifts and all the talent to be found in the world but it’s that Christ has put his name there and only there. So, to love Christ you’ve got to love that ragtag bunch of men and women who are named as the Church of Jesus Christ.To love Jesus actually means to listen carefully to his word.
We live in a day and age where we oftentimes want to love Jesus but not do what he says. We believe that somehow, we can reform him and correct him to sort of bring him into the contemporary world. We live in a day and age where we find it so convenient and tempting to love him and to shirk his people particularly the institutions that seem so outdated. But that’s not to listen to Jesus, and that’s not to trust his word. That’s not to attend to the way in which he seeks to provide for us. That is to turn him into something that we control.
One of the remarkable ways the Bible recalibrates the idea of loving Jesus is by saying that it’s always a call to love him by faith and to entrust yourself to him. It’s a call to put to death your own sense of control, your own dreams, your aspirations, your own sense that your reason and your conscience is fit to discern what’s right, and instead to always submit that to his word and to have it formed amidst his people because that’s where he promises to be with and for us.