Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. John 14:21
The name “Yorkshire Terrier” either elicits thoughts of frail, annoying, handbag-sized little yippity dogs for those who’ve never owned one or the warmest of fuzzies for those who have.
I happen to fall in the latter category.
I admit to harboring a certain amount of skepticism toward Yorkies in my pre-ownership days; but after having no less than three of the not frail, not annoying, not yippity (OK – sometimes a little yippity) critters in my house over the course of about 15 years, I came to love their loyalty, their intelligence, and their larger-than-life personalities.
The two most recent were Rosie, 9 pounds, and Hardy, Mack truck-sized. (I had no idea a Yorkie could get that big. Maybe he was from Texas…)
Just like a parent who avows they love each of their children equally, I probably should say the same about Rosie and Hardy. But, just like those same parents who know full well which child they would prefer to be stranded on a desert island with, I have to admit – Rosie was my favorite. (I’m just glad Hardy didn’t live long enough to read this, lest he leave me a little liquid gift on the kitchen floor in which to step in my bare feet.)
I loved that little dog. She was smart and sweet and kept the house humming with her Terrier brand of clock-work scheduling, which included regular restroom breaks, play time, treat breaks, and bed time. But just as important, I loved her because she minded me. She knew the rules and never failed to follow them. I always imagined that, even when I wasn’t home, she was being obedient, telling Hardy, “Absolutely not. Daddy said we are not to get up on the coffee table.”
There was never a doubt she loved me unconditionally, at least the doggie equivalent of love. When I walked in the door, whether I had been gone 10 minutes or 10 hours, she had to be up in my face, bathing me with licks on the nose and letting me know she was glad to see me. And I’m sure Hardy loved me, too, but I often imagined it was driven mainly by the fact that I was tall enough to reach the biskie jar.
God wants us to have that kind of unconditional love for Him – a love best demonstrated by our following what we know to be His will for our lives. In John 14:21, today’s verse, Jesus says that if I know what He wants me to do and do it, then it’s obvious to Him that I love Him.
But wait – there’s more! (Plus if you act now…)
As it turns out, Jesus also said that this love is mutual – because of my obedience God and Jesus will both love me and Jesus will make Himself real to me.
Just like I mentioned in my previous post, Is it real or is it…?, God didn’t make me to be a mindless robot – He gave me total freedom to:
- Accept His gift of grace and salvation
- Or to reject Him.
The choice was mine.
I made it plain to Rosie what I expected of her from the moment she toddled down the hallway of my house in that quirky puppy gait when I first brought her home. As intelligent as she was, she could have easily been mindful and disobedient, but she wasn’t. Although there were a few moments of discipline, her sweet nature (which I’m sure I helped nurture) caused her to mind me and want to please me. That made her little doggie lovin’ that much more special.
I imagine my using the freedom God gave me to choose a relationship with Him makes that decision that much more special to Him as well. No doubt, that’s at least partially what He had in mind when he gave us free will.
And obedience is a lot more than just following the 10 commandments – those are important and great foundational rules for each of us to live by, but often God’s will and commands are unique to the individual believer. Here’s a personal example.
In my post, Let it flow, I mentioned that I recently had my cable TV service disconnected – partly to save money and partly because the only things I watch, and then only on occasion, are programs I can get over the air like “Jeopardy” and the news (and the Olympics this summer).
The reason I don’t watch other TV shows, particularly scripted programs like sitcoms and dramas, is because they present a world view that’s pretty much diametrically opposed to mine now that I’m a follower of Jesus.
Previously, my DVR was full of episodes of “Glee,” “Modern Family,” and “The Big Bang Theory.” I love to laugh and those shows would have me in stitches every episode. But the Holy Spirit began gently pointing out that there was a lot of casual, pre-marital sex happening and language I don’t use and situations that were celebrated that I even voted to prevent in the real world. It’s not as though I was going to be led astray by Puck getting Quinn pregnant or Jay using the occasional cuss word – it’s just that God was pretty plain that there were more edifying activities I should be pursuing, such as reading good books (especially the Good Book) and further honing my world view by studying to prepare to write for this blog.
Just the fact that God didn’t want me to fill my time with watching that type of entertainment was actually all the reason I needed to cut the cord (er, cable); but as I began to think about it further, by sitting there and mindlessly and willingly taking it all in, I was implying consent or approval of what I was watching.
Did that personal prohibition make any difference in those shows being aired? Hardly – they continue to rack up viewers by the millions and awards by the dozens. But that wasn’t the point. God didn’t expect me to write letters of protest or campaign against these shows – He just expected me to be obedient to Him and show Him I love Him by pursuing activities that honor Him and His will for my life.
Please know that I’m not saying that Christians shouldn’t watch PG- and R-rated movies and sitcoms and dramas on TV. I’m just saying that I shouldn’t because it’s God’s will for my life – and because I love Him. However, I do hope you’re really listening to that “still small voice” and not deciding all by yourself whether or not certain things are OK. Once we start shutting God out of certain areas of our life and listening to our own voice and not the Holy Spirit’s we start walking the thin line between obedience and disobedience. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to stand before God one day and say, “But Lord, Cam and Mitchell were so funny! And besides, that one actor wasn’t really gay – he just played one on the show. I thought it would be OK… No?”
Besides, I’ve got Prayer Time (capital “P”, capital “T”) and articles to write and music to practice for church and wonderful books by the likes of C.S. Lewis and Max Lucado to read. Plus, I have to study my Bible so I can ace the Bible category in “Jeopardy.”
And if there is ever a “Terrier” category, I’ve got that one covered, too.