Adam (and Leah)
Adam loves football, and he loves his favorite NFL quarterback. He knows everything there is to know about him. He knows he likes to pass when he moves to his right and that he likes to run when he moves to his left. He knows he leads the league in designed roll outs and play action pass plays. He knows he almost never takes a snap in the pistol formation. He knows he’s the third best passer in the league when under pressure, and second best when facing a blitz. He even knows he likes his pizza with pepperoni and extra cheese. Adam knows the likes and preferences of other star players from his team too. Because Adam loves football. (The description above is of an actual NFL quarterback. A free manuscript of my next book, Love Like Jesus, to the first person who names him!)
Adam says he loves his wife Leah also. But curiously, Adam has trouble listening to Leah. He quickly becomes distracted and can’t seem to make Leah feel understood or loved. Leah loves Adam, but because he rarely listens, Adam doesn’t know many of Leah’s likes and preferences. He seems to have his own important agenda and Leah is only a small part of it.
John (and Sarah)
John says he loves football too. He enjoys games on Sunday, but he also loves his wife Sarah, and he knows everything there is to know about her. He knows she would rather do a home improvement project than go on a vacation. He knows she likes ice cream more than candy. He knows her favorite Starbucks order (venti, nonfat, white chocolate mocha, no foam, no whip). He knows she’d rather have him clean the bathroom than pay her a compliment. He knows her favorite restaurant (Rama Thai) and her favorite movie (Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King). He knows she likes old houses, old dishes, and old furniture.
John knows what Sarah wants, and John wants to please Sarah. Because he loves her.
You, Me (and Jesus)
A friend and I were discussing Jesus recently and he shared some things about him that made me wonder about myself. They were statements Jesus made in the gospels. Simple statements like repent, and be reconciled, and keep your word, and ask, seek, and knock. (Matthew 4:17, 5:24-25, 5:37, 7:7-8) I didn’t know that some people say there are fifty such statements. Some call them commands. As we were talking I realized that following these statements or commands won’t earn you a ticket to heaven. That’s impossible. (If you don’t believe me just read a few verses from The Sermon on the Mount.) But I also realized that if we love Jesus, we’ll want to follow his commands.
That made me feel like the first husband Adam in our tale of two husbands. Adam says he loves his favorite NFL quarterback and his behavior authenticates that claim. He’s faithfully in front of the TV every Sunday so he can enjoy his relationship with his favorite team. He knows what his favorite QB likes and prefers. He’s studied his tendencies. He longs to be in his presence, at least the presence of his image broadcast on the screen.
But even though both Adam and John say they love their wife, only one shows evidence of it. I think that’s how we can be with Jesus. Even as Adam says he loves his wife, I might say I love Jesus but I find it difficult to listen to Jesus’ words. I’m distracted by my love for the temporal, for the things of the earth. I’m distracted by my love for football, and basketball, and Netflix, and podcasts, and Reddit. As Adam is with Leah, sometimes I have my own agenda and Jesus is only a small part of it.
This is a profound problem. Because Jesus makes it clear that the evidence for our love for him is reflected in the way we follow his words. “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me,” Jesus says. (John 14:21) And he says, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.” (John 14:23) And he says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:14) Naturally that last statement leads us to ask: What then are we to Jesus if we don’t do what he commands us? I know one thing for certain, I don’t want to find out first hand what the answer is to that question.Which brings us to John, the second husband in our tale of two husbands.
What would life be like if my approach to Jesus was like John’s approach to Sarah? What would life be like if I studied the gospels to learn how I can better please him? Not to earn my way to heaven, but simply because I love Jesus.
John knows what Sarah wants, and John wants to please Sarah.
Because he loves her.
I want to know what Jesus wants, and I want to please Jesus. I want, to want to follow his words.
Out of love for him.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” –Jesus Christ, John 14:15