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Love Is All You Need: Part 4

by Paddy McCoy

I couldn’t believe my ears. I had never thought about the Ten Commandments in that way before, but the man sitting across from me at the table seemed convinced. He was José Rojas, pastor, author, and passionate speaker perhaps best recognized by the unforgettable mustache that cascades down his face.

During a visit to my campus Elder Rojas and I had the chance to grab a bite to eat. We were talking about all sorts of things that involve ministry when he told me that he had just finished preaching a series on the Ten Commandments. I asked him what, specifically, he had spoken about. He said, “Paddy, I’ve come to believe that aside from 1 Corinthians 13 there isn’t a more beautiful expression of love outside of the Ten Commandments.”

I’m sure the expression on my face looked as if I had just sipped sour milk. You see, I well remembered many sermons growing up that talked about how tough it would be to get into heaven. These sermons painted an image of God as someone who loved me only if I acted a certain way and did certain things. Therefore I was constantly behaving in such a way as to gain His approval. Because of this viewpoint, rules such as the Ten Commandments were burdensome to me, making me feel as if I had to follow them to the letter or else!

 Elder Rojas went on to explain what he meant.

 He said, “You see, Paddy, when I love someone, truly love them, then there are certain things I do to show them my love. Things such as: honoring them above all else, not putting anyone or anything before them, caring for their name, spending time with them, honoring their father and mother. I don’t hurt them, cheat on them, steal from them, lie to them, or covet something or someone else” (see Exodus 20:1-17).

Suddenly the light went on for me. What Elder Rojas was saying is that the Ten Commandments aren’t rules as much as a natural expression of what it looks like to be in love.

 As I processed this mind-blowing thought, I began to search for an illustration to make sense of it all. When I did, I thought about my relationship with my wife. For example, if I were the only person who lived in my home, I probably wouldn’t wipe the kitchen counter with a clean wet rag after every time I prepared food on the counter (gross, I know). However, because I love my wife and I know that it makes her happy when I wipe the counter with a clean wet rag after every use, guess what? I wipe the counter. I don’t do it so that my wife will love me. I do it because I love her and because I know she loves me. There’s big difference between these two views.

 Obedience, then, comes not out of fear, but out of love.

 The disciple John knew this well and wrote about it in his Gospel and three different letters attributed to him. John uses the word “love” more than 80 times in those passages, so it is definitely a central theme of his writings. And we learn, as we read through his books, that when we know we are loved and we receive that love, obedience follows. Listen to some of his words, the first being a passage we discussed earlier in this series.

 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34, 35).*

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7, 8).

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:18, 19).

“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).

“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love”
(2 John 1:6).

John knew love because he had rested his head on the chest of love (see John 13:23). He had watched love calm storms, feed thousands, heal the sick, and even raise the dead. He saw love in action, and he knew he had to live his life like that of his Master, a life of love. John knew the most important thing in life was to love and be loved in return.

Rumor has it that near the end of his life twentieth-century author, theologian, and philosopher Karl Barth was asked to summarize the most important thing he learned in his years of studying Scripture and theology. Barth thought for a moment and then responded with these words: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

This truth is the single most important thing you’ll ever learn in your life, and when you truly understand it, you will naturally want to live life in a way that brings Jesus glory, honor, and praise.

My prayer for you is the same as Paul’s for the church in Ephesus. “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19).

* Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Padraic “Paddy” McCoy writes from College Place, Washington. He is the campus chaplain for Walla Walla University.

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