Lately, I've been thinking about this verse:
Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
This is not an idle promise on the part of Jesus.
I remember first reading this, and just discarding it, with a kind of weary despair.
That's because I was confused as to what His commandments were- the Bible is full of laws- and I knew absolutely my own inability to be obedient to them.
I figured I would never be able to love Jesus the right way. I would have to muddle through somehow.
Then, this fall, when I read it again, it hooked me right away. Jesus will reveal Himself?
The Amplified Bible put it like this, in brackets:
I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.
I wanted that- I wanted that very badly. And as I grew in understanding, I learned that Jesus has two commandments: to love God with all one's heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love others as oneself.
Note, by the way, that it's to love God with all the heart, soul, strength and mind that you have available, not more than you have.
One offers up all that one has, even if it's a little strength, even if it's a broken heart, even if its a wounded soul or a confused mind.
One can lean one's whole self into these commandments, because upon these commandments hang all the rest of them.
Knowing that simplified things for me.
So I begged Jesus to enable me to love others as myself, so that I could keep His commandments, so that I could see Him more and more clearly.
Quite unsurprisingly, Jesus has been answering this prayer. He has been doing it in an unexpected way- which, I am learning, is very typical of Him.
He began to teach me, over and over again, that I could not love others well if I could not love myself. And I could not learn to love myself on my own- I had to let Jesus love me.
Jesus has been teaching me to drop my self judgments. They do me no good. If I am going to love others unconditionally, I must first love myself to that degree.
This is hard to do. I used to have a different system going.
In the previous system, I tried and failed. To make up for my failure, I judged and then punished myself. Then I tried again, only to fail yet again. Then I judged myself more harshly and punished myself more stringently.
This old system does not want, to borrow a phrase from Dylan Thomas, to go quietly into that good night. It burns and raves.
However, that system is no match for the love of God, which is the most dynamic force in all of creation. Nothing can stand before it- certainly not my crummy old system, which gets dissolved by love.
Consequently, I have in fact, been seeing Jesus more and more clearly. He is breathtakingly real to me.
Note that none of this happened by my own efforts. I did not try on my own to love others. If I had, I would have failed miserably.
I did nothing but ask for love, and when it came, I learned to surrender myself more and more deeply to that love. In surrendering to love, I mirrored that love out to others around me.
We were created by Love, we are kept by Love and we mirror that love back out, to the very One that created us, and to those around us.
When we do this, we see God.
It's a perfect system.