Perhaps you’re thinking, “well, I guess so.” Or maybe you’re wondering which Jesus I’m talking about. But have you ever taken the Test to know if you love Jesus?
That’s right. There really is a test to know if you love Jesus. And it’s simple. You can take it right now.
Let’s suppose you want to know if Al loves Bob (no, not in THAT way—get your mind out of the gutter). The best person to ask is Bob. You might ask Bob, “Does Al love you?” Or you might ask, “Bob, what kind of person would you consider your great friend? What would he act like? Does Al act that way to you?” We can ask the same question of Jesus. “Jesus, what kind of person loves you?” The cool thing is that Jesus already gave us an answer: “The one who keeps my commandments, he it is that loves me and he will be loved by my Father.” (John 14: 23)
So here’s the test that answers the question, “Do you love Jesus?”— Do you keep his commandments?
Well, for most of us, that’s an even trickier question to answer that the first. Most of us who are Christians would probably say, “Yes and no.” Yes, because we try to obey many of them. No, because we fail so often. And besides, we’re still in process. Let me tell you a frightening secret: The level to which we obey Jesus’ commands is the level to which we love him! (check it out—John 14:21, 23; John 15:10) And the level to which we disobey Jesus’ commands is the level to which we rebel against him.
That may be a difficult pill for you to swallow. There are some main objections that come right to mind:
1. “Jesus called us to live by grace!”
Yes, that’s true. And God’s grace leads us to a life of righteousness which was clearly taught by Jesus (Matthew 7: 14-25). Jesus talks about grace in two ways in the gospel” a. The Father’s grace to draw men to follow Jesus (John 6:44); and b. The opening of blind eyes to see the gospel of Jesus (John 9: 39;Matthew 13: 11, 16; Matthew 16: 13-17). Jesus taught that grace is given by the Father to help us to follow Jesus. And following Jesus means to believe in him and to live by the example he taught and lived.
2. “I am saved by faith, not works.”
Yes, that is true as well. But even Paul said that our salvation leads into works: “We are saved by grace through faith... We are his workmanship created for good works in Christ which he has prepared for us to do from the foundation of the world.” (Eph. 2:8-10) Our faith isn’t an intellectual nod to Christ that is left on the doorstep of our hearts, never to enter into the arena of our lives. Jesus wants all of ourselves to follow him, not just our heads.
3. “Jesus was speaking to his disciples or to Israel, not to us today.”
If we refuse to obey Jesus’ commands, to follow him with our heart and life, then let us stop saying that we love Jesus. In fact, let’s stop saying that we follow Jesus or that Jesus is our Lord or that we’re even Christians! We can be called Paulists perhaps, Calvinists or maybe by a particular denomination. But if we refuse to listen to Jesus, let’s not claim that we have anything to do with him. No one who does not follow Christ could truly be called a Christian. So if you refuse to love him in the way he wants to be loved, you should drop the whole religion.
4. “Jesus’ commands are too difficult! I’ve tried, but I can’t obey them consistently.”
Jesus knows about your failures and is ready to forgive you. The one who seeks out God will be given the Holy Spirit and power to be able to live the life of Jesus (Romans. 8: 1-4). If we confess our sins, he will forgive us (I John 1:9). But those who refuse to repent in light of his commands, those who make excuses for what Jesus says, those who claim to believe but will not heed Jesus’ call to obey, those who lack single minded obedience to Christ— on the day of judgment Jesus will have but one thing to say to you, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” (Mt. 7: 21-23).
For those who truly wish to obey Christ, perhaps there is still a question: “Am I really obeying Jesus’ commands? I can’t even remember what they are! To help you out, here is a brief list of commands that we as Americans seem to have the greatest difficulty with:
Humility: “Whoever of you wants to be the greatest, you must be the least.“ (Luke 22:26).
Trust in God: “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (Mt. 6:34. For a fuller context, read Luke 12: 13-34).
Giving: “Give to the one who asks you and so not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:42)
Attachment to possessions and Riches: “No one can serve two masters... You cannot serve both God and riches.” (Matthew 6:24 also Luke 6: 24-25)
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted:” (Luke 12: 33-34)
This is a tall order for any of us. Probably every one of us can look at this list, as brief as it is, and say honestly to ourselves or to God, “I can’t do this. This goes against everything I’ve worked for my entire life.” I understand, living the life of Christ is a burden, but it is an easy one.
(This is one of the tracts I would hand out in front of churches)