9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you…” I can only imagine what these words meant to the disciples as they poured from the mouth of their beloved Jesus into their listening ears. And I can only imagine the questions that must have begun to swirl in their minds at such a confession!
“He loves me like the Father loves Him? How is that possible?”
“What does that kind of love even look like?”
“How could He ever think me worthy of such affection?”
“Abide in My love,” Jesus continued. “Abide – “lodge yourself in, remain in, and don’t depart from”- the love that I have for you.” Why? “…that your joy may be full.”
This love that the apostle John would later describe as a different kind – “category and type” – of love than any He had ever known before was the very source of complete and abundant joy, the very thing our human hearts long for and hope to find (1 John 3:1). And it was theirs. I often wonder how the disciples responded to this revelation.
Of my fourteen children, ten are adopted. I am often asked, “Which ones are actually yours?”
“All of them,” I will respond without hesitation.
“I know that, but which ones did you mother?”
“All of them,” I will repeat.
“But they aren’t all from you.”
“They are now,” I will smile, refusing to separate my children in categories of “mine” and “not mine.”
The truth is – I often forget that some of them did not come from my womb. I take credit for their good looks and athletic abilities citing a quality “gene pool” on my side of the family. I struggle to remember a time we weren’t all together and when paperwork requires me to count how many adoptions have been finalized in this home over the years, I tend to be off by one or two. When I look at my children, I see…my children and I love them all the same.
This is what Jesus spoke of in John 15, yet on a greater scale. The love that Father God has for His begotten child is very love that we who were given “adoption” through the blood of Jesus are loved with. Do we know that? Do we believe that? Jesus wanted us to!
1 John 4:16
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
This verse describes what God desires for each of us – that we would “come to know” and “to believe” the “love that God has for us.” For years, I could believe that God loved you. In fact, I was fully convinced of that very truth. And yet, I daily grappled with the thought that I could be loved, that the Father would care to know ME and call ME by name. I wanted to believe. I just…couldn’t. I knew my flaws. I knew my mistakes. I knew why I was so far from worthy of this love. And yet…
“1 John 4:19 tells us that our love for God is a response to Him loving us first. My brother, Caleb Ives, once wrote on his Facebook status that “the only relationship where the declaration of love precedes any form of earning is between parents and children. How beautiful that this is how we are taught to understand our relationship with God.” 1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God!”
His love is “lavished,” it is “bestowed” and “given” to us before we do anything of value and in full knowledge of the many times we will fall short. Our Father sees every detail of who we are and who we will be and still loves us with “everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). It is a free gift – based upon His goodness not ours. Did you catch that? His goodness – not ours. Our part is simply to receive it – to respond to His love by loving Him back (Excerpt Taken from Lesson 5 of “To Know Him As Father” by Nicole Homan).”
23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
God makes His home within us as we live in a love relationship with Him. In the giving and receiving of love, in the pouring out and responding - intimacy grows. It is here that I become my Beloveds and He becomes mine (Song of Solomon 6:3). The word “home” in John 14:23 doesn’t just mean “abode” or “dwelling place.” It also means “the indwelling” of the Holy Spirit within the believer. God’s Spirit in me. How beautiful and profound! No intimacy that can be experienced within a human relationship can properly define or fully express that which is offered to us by God Himself. The closest we can come is the intimacy found within the loving relationship of a husband and a wife. Ephesians 5:31 tells us that in marriage the two are joined together (defined as “adhering to and gluing oneself to another”) so that they become “one flesh” – one substance, one body, one being. In this, marriage reflects the relationship God longs for with us – that the two would become one.
1 Corinthians 3:16
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit lives in you?”
“…And the two shall become one.” This is the desire of God’s heart! Abiding in His love is more than simply acknowledging that He loves us. It’s fully considering it and believing it. It’s responding to it. It’s loving Him back through obedience and the loving of others. And it’s living at a depth of intimacy with Him that is beyond anything we have with anyone else. It’s becoming one – fully known by Him and knowing Him fully. Do you have that with Him? If not, do you want to? I know I do. Thankfully, His Word shows us how.
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a] 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
If marriage was created to reflect the relationship between God and His church, then understanding the way that God called husbands to love their wives and wives to love their husbands would then point us to how our God loves us and how we are to respond to that love.
The wife (church) is to submit to the husband (Jesus). This means to “obey and to set oneself under the leadership of another.” It’s important to recognize that submission is a CHOICE. We are not giving up our right to choose. We are USING our right to choose by choosing Him.
It is also important for us to understand that submission is our response to Christ’s love for us. His love, however, is not a response to our obedience. We are loved no matter what. As we read in John 14:15, when we love Him, we will obey Him. Out of honor and respect for Him as our Leader, the submitted church will say, “God, I see that You are good and I trust You to lead me well.” We will lean into His control and submit ourselves fully to His hand, fully resting in the love that He bestows upon us.
Paul called this love a “great love” in the book of Ephesians. This is translated into words such as “abundant” and “uncommon” in the original language. It is a love that can only be found in Christ and in His followers – one of another world entirely. The disciples got the definition for the word love (Agape) by watching Jesus’ life. The way He loved was so different from anything they had ever known that they had to create a new word to describe it. It is a love that is unconditional, sacrificial and serving. When this love is in effect within a marriage, the wife can do nothing but respond!
Verse 28 tells us, “He who loves His wife, loves Himself.” It talks of the husband (Jesus) nourishing and cherishing his Bride (the church). Paul goes on to write, “This is the mystery of God.” This is literally translated, “his hidden will, ways and plan.” As we receive and give love, the two become one. In the exchange, there is connection, intimacy, and revelation. His Spirit takes up residency in us. Relationship grows. Abiding happens.
God wants more than weekend visits with you. He wants more than robotic obedience birthed from a sense of duty or a fear of missing out on Heaven. He wants a love relationship with you. He wants to be “one (John 17:21).” Today, take up residency in His love and allow His love to take up residence in your heart. There is so much more to this relationship than you have experienced. Sweet communion awaits.
11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.