If you love me

If you love me, you will … (you fill in the blank). Did someone ever say that to you? What follows is usually something very important to the one who begins a request this way. When someone asks you to do something there generally is an element of choice involved. You can say yes, or no, and the person may have to accept your choice. But what if a lot hinges on your answer? If it’s appropriate to your relationship, someone may begin by saying, “If you love me, you will do this for me.” That brings the request to a whole new level. Now it’s not a simple question. Now there is an emotional element attached to it. Someone would not say this to you if they didn’t think that you loved them, and that love now requires something of you.

It may involve something as simple as choosing a vacation spot or purchasing something they’d like to have. But it may be much more important, as in, “If you love me, you wouldn’t leave me.” Jesus made this type of request shortly before he was crucified. He said to his followers, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) This was obviously very important to him. Their obedience would demonstrate their love for him. He was about to leave them. He wanted to make sure they would not forget his commandments – those things they must do if they were really his followers.

What were his commandments?

Earlier someone had asked Jesus which was the greatest of God’s commandments. He answered, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” All other laws were based on these two commandments.

Since Jesus and God are One, Jesus said that if his followers loved him, they should … well, love him. Actively love him. Today, we Christians are his followers. How do we actively love him? We love him by worshiping him, by attending church and offering him our praise and our prayers. We love him by greeting him with prayer when we wake up and closing our day in conversation with him. We learn more about him by reading our Bibles. We love him by taking care of the world he created. We love him by respecting our own minds and bodies and refraining from sin, since we are his creation.

And if we love him, we also must love our neighbors. While we may not know them well enough to feel a personal affection for them, we can act in love toward them. We can treat them with respect and courtesy. We can refrain from doing them any harm. We can give our money and our time to lift up those who are struggling. We can share the love of Jesus with those who do not know him.

If you love Jesus you will keep those commandments. This was so important to Jesus that he used those exact words: “If you love me.” Can you say “yes, I will” to Jesus?

– Waugh is the pastor in the Warrensville United Methodist Charge.