Why Disciples Are Not Ascetics

Love | Obedience

In chapter one of Multiply Francis Chan says, “Love for God and obedience to Christ cannot be separated.” That is a bold statement by Chan, but one that is backed up by Jesus’s own words in John 14:15. There, He says to His disciples, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” Our love for Christ is demonstrated by a lifestyle of obedience to everything Jesus has commanded. Neither Chan nor Jesus is talking about a life of sinless perfection. We know that only Jesus could perfectly fulfill every part of God’s holy law. However, we see that genuine love for the Lord Jesus will necessarily result in a sincere (albeit imperfect) walk of faith-filled obedience to Him.

Does this mean we live a life of strict rule keeping where we must suppress our desire for pleasure and joy? In a word, no! The opposite is true. Pursuing a life of obedience to Christ IS pursuing a life of the deepest joy, meaning and satisfaction. That’s what Jesus says later on in the Gospel of John as He continues to stress to His disciples the importance of keeping His commandments. He says, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full (John 15:11). What a radical idea, or at the least a counter intuitive one. Jesus’s commands to us are not only for our good, they’re for our joy! The apostle John restates this in 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”

I am struck by that last part of verse 3, “His commandments are not burdensome.” Do you believe that, Christian? Do you believe that the deepest joy, and life in the truest sense of the word are found in keeping His commandments? Has that been your experience? I know that there are times when His commandments do feel burdensome. Most often, that’s only because I’ve been keeping them in my own strength OR because I’m despairing of the fact that I’ve failed to keep them (which again, I’ve tried to do in my own strength). Jesus was very clear in John 15, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” We’re called to live a life of obedience to Christ’s commands, but we’re only able to do so by the strength that He alone can provide.

Do not despair, friends! Pursue your joy in Him today and demonstrate your love for Christ by walking in obedience to His commandments by the strength that He provides.

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