"Jesus replied, 'All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.'" - NLT John 14:23
Both my boys, growing up, had their favorite stuffed animals. Night after night they would get into bed and embrace their little friends and comfortably doze off to sleep. On occasion, they would tell us how much they loved their little "buddies." No matter how much my boys showed affection to those fuzzy creatures, the stuffed animals never displayed any life or love back to them. Similarly, but definitely not identical, God loves us like my boys loved their stuffed animals. You see, my sons were demonstrating unconditional love to their lifeless friends in the same way God demonstrates unconditional love to all people. The Bible says, “As for you, you were dead in your sins… when you followed the ways of this world and… the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. But because of his great love for us, God… made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” - NIV Ephesians 2:1-2, 4-5. The Bible tells us that we too were incapable of loving God back, that we were lifeless concerning a relationship with Him. But because His love was so great for us, He never stopped carrying us around and embracing us, even though we did not show affection back in return, but instead, disobedience. If you are a Jesus follower, you know all that changed when you finally recognized the embrace of your Father, through the love and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. You responded to His love by giving your life to Him. When you did that your lifeless body became alive, and you were now capable of showing affection back by loving obedience. Jesus said that if we are truly His followers, it is directly measured by a willing and obedient life. Ask yourself, “Am I loving Jesus back by an obedient life. Would He recognize my love?” Are you remaining lifeless in the embrace of the Father, or does He experience your embrace back through loving obedience?