When Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments”, did that mean you and I would forever be measured according to our obedience. Is the measure of my love for God and, in turn, his love for me really a function of how well I can conform to his requirements? If that is the case, we are left with a strange definition of love. It becomes something of a contractual arrangement. If you do this, then I’ll do that. In this scenario, God’s Love sounds like a commodity which can be earned by my performance.
Many would conclude that our society has, indeed, a strange concept of love, maybe as a result of this common picture of how God’s Love is bestowed. In relationship after relationship psychologists note that people break apart because their friend or spouse fails to meet their expectations, to fulfill their needs, and by implication to love them. Basing relationship on the idea that someone else must conform to my expectation for my happiness is demonstrably disastrous. Whatever the source, this idea of relationship is not the product of real love. It could, however, be the product of real bad theology.
Perhaps Jesus’ call to obedience was not a reflection of the multiple rule keeping theology of the present day church. After all, Jesus said the whole law was distilled in the Golden Rule, didn’t he? What then could Jesus’ statement mean? How about this: If you love me, love others. If you love Jesus, reflect his love into the world, not through pious rule keeping but through active service to your fellowmen. Conformity to this “rule” is love in action and elevates our concept of love to a level befitting the God who is defined as Love.