It’s 4:30am, Palm Sunday. I have to get up in a few hours and teach the young children in church today, yet instead of sleeping, I’m up fighting a terrible allergy attack.
Since I can’t sleep I thought I might as well read. I never expected this.
For years I have struggled with this verse. I was taught it in the older language, “If ye love me, keep my commandments”.
In my legalistic culture growing up, I was taught this was threat from God. I could imagine Him shaking His finger at me…”If you REALLY love me, Emily, you’d better prove it by being perfect and keeping all my commandments without fail!!!”
If I stumbled, then I didn’t really love God.
If I sinned, then I didn’t really love God.
If I messed up, then didn’t really love God.
It was an impossible burden to bear. On one hand I was taught that I must prove my love and loyalty to God by being perfect, but on the other hand, I was taught I was a hopeless sinner with a wicked heart, not possible of doing any good.
For three years now I have tried to redeem this verse. To find the truth. Find the grace. Find the peace. Find the hope.
But I couldn’t. Until now.
Enter, The Passion Translation. While I understand this is a paraphrase translation, these types of translations are imperative for people, like me, who have been spiritually abused. We can’t separate God’s Word from the lies we were taught, so using a radically different text, one that is in a modern tone, is sometimes the only form of Scripture we can handle.
Anyway, tonight I came accross this verse in TPT. And I cried, y’all. Big, ugly tears.
Why is this important?
Who/What is Love? It’s Jesus. JESUS empowers us to live holy lives. Not us. Not our own will power. Not our human weakness. But Jesus within us. HE gives us the power to love, and love gives us the power to obey.
Oh, what freedom! Oh, what hope! Jesus transforms. Jesus empowers. Jesus fills. THIS is a grace-based Gospel. Not finding a license to sin — but realizing that Jesus already completes us, and so we are free to live out a life of thankfulness; a life of loving. Loving God and loving others.
And those are the two greatest commandments of all.