God's love and our obedience are the lock and key fitting together. It's God's grace that fits them together, and it's us that use that key to open the treasures of His love. In this chapter of "Believer's Secret of Living Like Christ" by Andrew Murray, we see that we are the beloved of Jesus just as He was the beloved of the Father. And it's this love and His heart that we should seek above all else. It's from this love that we will find our greatest fulfillment, our joy and peace that passes all understanding. It's from this love, abiding in His love, that we truly come to know Him and live in and through Him.
"Abiding in the Love of God"
"As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you;
continue in my love. If ye keep my commandments,
ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my
Father's commandments, and abide in his love."
Our Lord not only said, "Abide in me," but also, "Abide in my love." Of the abiding in Him, the principal part is the dwelling and being rooted in that wonderful love with which He loves us. "Love seeketh not its own"; it always goes out of itself to live and be at one with the beloved; it ever opens itself and stretches its arms wide to receive and hold fast the object of its desire: Christ's love longs to possess us. Abiding in Christ is an intensely personal relationship, the losing of ourselves in the fellowship of an intimate love, finding our life in the experience of being loved by Him.
Jesus tells us that this love in which we are to abide is the same as the Father's love in which He abides. Surely, if anything were needed to make the abiding in His love more wonderful and attractive, this ought to do so. "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue in my love." Our life may be Christlike, unspeakabley blessed in the consciousness of an infinite love embracing and delighting in us.
We know this was the secret of Christ's wonderful life, and His strength in prospect of death. At His baptism the voice was heard, the divine message which the Spirit brought and unceasingly maintained in living power, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." More than once we read: "The Father loveth the Son" (John 3:35; 5:20). Christ speaks of it as His highest blessedness: "That the world may know that thou hast....loved them, as thou has loved me....thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."; "That the love wherewith thou has loved me may be in them" (John 17:23, 24,26). Just as we live in the light of the sun shining around us, so Jesus lived in the light of the glory of the Father's love shining on Him all the day. It was as the beloved of God that He was able to do God's will and finish His work. He dwelt in the love of the Father.
And we too are the beloved of Jesus. Even as the Father loved Him, He loves us. What we need to do is to take time to worship and to wait until we see the infinite love of God in all its power and glory streaming forth upon us. Seeing the heart of Jesus we know that His love desires complete possession of us and is offering itself to us as our home and resting place. Oh, if we would but take time to let the wonderous though fill us, "I am the beloved of the Lord. Jesus loves me as the Father loved Him," how the faith would grow!
But there is a second point in the comparison. Not only is the love we are to abide in like that in which He abode, but the way of our abiding is the same as His. As the son, Christ was in the Father's love when He came into the world; but it was only through obedience that He could abide in it. Nor was this an obedience that cost Him nothing; no, it was through obedience that He suffered, in becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. He kept the Father's commandments and abode in His love. "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life. This commandment have I received of my Father." "The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him." And having given us His example and proved that the path of obedience takes us into the presence and love and glory of God, He invites us to follow Him. "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."
Christlike obedience is the way to a Christlike enjoyment of love divine. How it secures our boldness of access into God's presence! "Let us love in deed and in truth; hereby shall we assure our hearts before him." Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God; and whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." How it gives us boldness before men and lifts us above their approval or contempt. We move at God's bidding and know that we have but to obey orders! And what boldness He gives us in the face of difficulty or danger--because we are doing God's will and dare leave to Him all responsibility as to failures or success. The heart filled with the thought of entire obedience to God alone rises above the world into the will of God, into the place where God's love rests on him; like Christ, he abides in the love of God.
Let us seek to learn from Christ what it means to have this spirit of obedience ruling in our life. It implies the spirit of dependence; the confession that we have neither the right nor the desire to do anything in our own will. It involves teachableness of spirit. Conscious of the blinding influence of tradition, and prejudice, and habit, it takes its law not from men but from God himself. Concious of how little the most careful study of the Word can reveal God's will in its spiritual power, it seeks to be entirely under the rule of the Holy Spirit. It knows that its view of truth and duty are very parital and deficient, and counts on being led by God himself to deeper insight and higher attainment.
It has marked God's word, "If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight," and understood that it is only when the commands come from the living voice of the Lord heard speaking through the Spirit that the obedience will be possible and acceptable. It sees that following the Father's personal directions, and as a service rendered to Him, that obedience has its full value and brings its full blessing. Its great care is to keep eye and ear open to God for every indication of His blessed will. It is not content with doing right for its own sake; it brings everything into personal relation to God himself, doing it as unto the Lord. It wants every hour and every step in life to be a fellowship with God. It desires in the little things to be consciously obeying the Father, because this is the only way to be prepared for higher work. Its one means is with all its heart and strength to be working out that will each moment of the day. And its one reward is this, it knows that through the will of God lies the road deeper into the love of God; "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love."
Oh, this blessed Christlike obedience, leading to a Christlike abiding in the divine love! To attain it we must study Christ. He emptied himself and humbled himself and became obedient. May He empty us and humble us too! He learned obedience in the school of God, and being made perfect became the author of eternal salvation to all that obey Him! We must yield ourselves to be taught obedience by Him. We need to listen how He did nothing of himself, but only what He saw and heard from the Father; how entire dependence and continual waiting on the Father was the root of implicit obedience, and this secret of every-growing knowledge of the Father's deeper secrets (John 5:19,20). God's love and man's obedience are the lock and key fitting together into each other. It is God's grace that fitted the key into the lock; it is man who uses the key to unlock the treasures of love.
In the light of Christ's example and words, what new meaning comes to God's words spoken to His people from old! "In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thee, because thou hast obeyed my voice." "If ye will indeed obey my voice, ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me." "The Lord shall greatly bless thee, if thou only carefully hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all these commandments." Love and obedience indeed become the two great factors in the wonderful relationship between God and man. The love of God, giving himself and all He has to man; the obedience of the believer in that love, giving himself and all he has to God.
We have heard a good deal about full surrender and entire consecration, and thousands praise God for all the blessing He has given them through these words. Let us beware lest we seek for a blessed experience to be enjoyed, or a state to be maintained, while the simple doing of God's will is overlooked. Let us take hold and use this word which God loves: obedience. "To obey is better than to sacrifice." Self-sacrifice is nothing without , it is nothing but, obedience. It was the meek and lowly sacrifice such a sweet-smelling savor: it is humble, childlike obedience, first hearkening gently to the Father's voice, and then doing that which is right in His sight, that will bring us the witness that we please Him.
Dear reader, shall this not be our life? so simple, and sublime: obeying Jesus and abiding in His love.
O my God! what shall I say to the wonderful possibilities you have set before me? Your Son has proven to us how it is possible for a man to live with the love of God always surrounding him. This came by obedience to Your voice and will. And because He is ours, our head and our life, we know that we can in our measure live and walk as we see Him do: our souls abiding and rejoicing in Your divine love, because You receive our obedience for His sake. My God, it is too wonderful that we are called to this Christlike dwelling in love through the Christlike obedience Your Spirit works!
Blessed Jesus, how can I praise You for coming and bringing such a life on earth and making me a sharer in it! O my Lord, I can only yield myself afresh to keep Your commandments as You kept the Father's. Lord, impart to me the secret of Your own obedience: the open ear, the watchful eye, the meek and lowly heart; the childlike giving of all as the beloved Son to the beloved Father. Savior, fill my heart with Your love; in the faith and experience of that love I will do it too. Yes, Lord, this shall be my life: keeping Your commandments and abiding in Your love. Amen