"Love, and do as you will."
The title for this week's comments are from St Augustine. I came across them in my reading and they struck home for me because they capture the essence of what is behind Jesus' words in John 14:15-21.
Jesus here talks about love and obedience, another helper, about not leaving us orphaned and then finishes back where he started with words about love and obedience. Underlying all this is the understood truth that he is not talking about religion or religious action or personal piety, but about relationships. John 14:7ff actually act as an introduction to all this with his comments about 'seeing' Jesus is 'seeing' the Father. But here it takes it further to talk about our intimacy with him and his intimacy with us.
If we 'love' then this becomes the reason for our obedience. Not fear. Not moral uprightness. Not obedience for the sake of obedience, but love. Love for Jesus...not just his teachings. An emotional involvement...a intimate relationship with him.
His relationship with us is just as intimate. First coming as our 'helper'...hence the Spirit becomes 'another helper'. Then comes his promise not to abandon us, but to live and be seen in and among us. How is this possible, but through 'love of one another' and the promise that we are in him and he in us...something inseparable and wonderful in itself.
This is why Christianity can not survive becoming a 'religion'. Religions are all about rules and guidelines, rituals and traditions, with greater emphasis on performance and preservation.
Jesus calls us into an intimate relationship with himself. One that is best described as 'love'...and as we all know 'love' is messy, risky, dangerous, fulfilling, challenging, enfolding, life-giving and eternal.
That's why I like St Augustine's words... "Love, and do as you will."