“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love”
Obedience and love are not the same. One is the reason and one is the result. One can be defined merely by action while the other requires affection. One is relational, the other functional.
Obedience is necessary whether we enjoy it or not. But if our reason is love, then obedience is our spontaneous delight. The lover does what the one loved desires. Love calls to love. It is not a formula; it is the inner life of a relationship.
Much of our difficulty, I believe, in seeing obedience as a concrete demonstration of love is owing to our view of Christ’s commandments. When He says, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love,” we tend to think of obligations unrelated to the very person of Christ; tasks disconnected from the life of our relationship to Him. We need to think of His commandments in such a way that their righteous demands have everything to do with our nearness to Christ.
By faith, picture Christ—as both your Lord and Lover of Soul. See His commandments as calls. So that when you are tempted to sin, Christ being not near sin calls you to be near Him and away from sin. At every choice, He calls to you—in His commands—to be closest to Him. At every fork in the road, His commands call you to be near Him. “This way,” is the call of The Way (Jn 14:6). To choose His way out of a desire to be near Him is abiding in His love. See His commandments as calls.
Love has a moral dimension to it, apart from which love is not genuinely love (Rom 12:9). If we say that we love Christ, the test of genuineness or hypocrisy will be seen in the pursuit of our heart. Our we abhorring what is evil (sin) and clinging to what is good (Christ)?
Our choices cannot be contradictions to our confession of love. We demonstrate either a desire for Christ-hating sin or Christ, hating sin. While we may be indifferent to sin, sin is not indifferent to Christ. So while obedience and love are not the same, love has consequences and cannot finally be feigned. What we love will eventually be known.