Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion states: The mutual forces of action and reaction between two bodies are equal, opposite, and collinear. If you paid attention at all back in your sciences classes, then you know that an easier way of saying this is that: To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.
If my action is to toss a ball up into the air, the reaction will be gravity pulling the ball back down to the ground. If I pull back on this rubber band, when I let go the reaction will be that the rubber band will fly off in the opposite direction from where I was pulling it. The farther I pull back in this direction, the farther the rubber band will fly in that direction.
This is one of the universal laws of physics. It meets these three criteria: It has never been contradicted, it appears to apply everywhere in the universe, and it is simple – it can be expressed in terms of a single mathematical equation.
Being a universal law of physics, Newton’s Third Law of Motion can be applied anywhere. It can even be applied to the days of our lives. Every step we take in life leads to another. This is true in our everyday lives, and its true in our spiritual lives, as well. Everything we do leads to something else.
Love is no different. In fact, the action of love brings about the greatest reactions of all. When we truly love someone, we will go to the greatest lengths for that person. Romantic love between two people often leads to marriage. Our love for our children leads to both sacrifices, and loving discipline. Loving someone leads to actions on our part, but it also results in a reaction. When we love someone, we receive a great blessing. Love leads to both sacrifice and gain; love is both giving and receiving.
This is what Jesus is talking about to his disciples, here. Jesus tells the disciples – us – what loving Jesus will lead them – us – to do: our actions. “If you love me,” Jesus says, “you will keep my commandments.” What are Jesus’ commandments? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength … and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Then Jesus tells us what will be given to us as a result of our love for him: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever … because I live, you also will live … and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments … they who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me.” Love for Jesus will lead to obedience. Love for Jesus will lead to keeping and guarding what Jesus taught during his ministry. Love for Jesus leads to love for God and love for other people.
Paul had a couple of things to say about this – well, more than a couple, but we’ll stick to a couple of examples this morning. Paul told the Galatians that “the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” To the Colossians Paul wrote, “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
If we really and truly love Jesus, then there must be action on our part. We must do more than simply say the words. Jesus also tells us, in Matthew 7, that “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven.” The proof of our love for Jesus is found in our obedience to Jesus’ commandments. The proof of our love for Jesus is found in our love for God, and in our love for one another.
If we love Jesus, then we must show our love for God. We have to make sacrifices: we have to take time out of our busy schedules to worship God on a regular basis, we have to put some effort into studying God’s written word, we have to spend time with God in prayer, listening for God’s Spirit, the Spirit of truth.
We have to actively, publicly, show our love for God, by coming to God’s house – not just when it’s convenient for us, but when it’s inconvenient for us, when we’d much rather stay in bed, or go to the lake. It’s a sacrifice we have to make, an action we have to take, in order to show our love for God.
If we love Jesus, then we must show our love for others. We have to make sacrifices: we have to help the poor, the downtrodden, the oppressed, just as Jesus taught us to. We have to show our love for others actively, publicly, by feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, caring for the sick, visiting those in prison, welcoming the stranger. We can’t just talk about it; we can’t just sit back and say how sad it all is.
If we love Jesus then we have to do something about it. It’s important for us to remember that this is a church, a part of the body of Christ; it’s not a country club, where we show up to be seen by others, to feel good about ourselves.
If we love Jesus then we have to do what Jesus told us to do. Here are just a few of the things Jesus taught us to do: we have to hunger and thirst for righteousness, we have to be merciful, we have to be peacemakers. If we love Jesus we have to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
If we love Jesus then we have to spend our time building one another up, not tearing one another down. It’s so easy to snipe at someone, so easy to whisper behind someone’s back, to call someone names, to blame someone else when things aren’t going the way you think they should. It’s easy, but it’s wrong.
Back to our buddy Paul again: to the Thessalonians Paul wrote, “Therefore encourage one another and build up each other.” The writer of Hebrews added, “Let us consider how to encourage one another to love and good deeds.” If we love Jesus, then we have to stop with the backstabbing; we have to learn to encourage one another and help one another along life’s journey.
All these things, and more, will be our actions if we love Jesus. And, just as our love for Jesus will lead to obedience, to following Jesus’ commandments, our love for Jesus will also lead to joy and happiness. Just as our love for Jesus results in actions on our part, it also results in God’s acting on our behalf. Love for Jesus leads to blessings from God.
First, Jesus promises that we will receive the Holy Spirit, an “Advocate, to be with [us] forever.” Our love for Jesus means that we will never be abandoned by Jesus, we will never be alone. The presence of God will be with us throughout our lives. In hard times and in easy times, sad times and happy times, we will have God’s Spirit with us, helping us, leading us, celebrating with us, comforting us. We will receive the Holy Spirit because we love Jesus and keep Jesus’ commandments.
Second, Jesus promises us something called spiritual sight. Because we love Jesus, Jesus will reveal himself to us. Our spiritual eyes will be opened, and we will receive a new understanding. “The world will no longer see me, but you will see me.” If we love Jesus and keep Jesus’ commandments, we will be able to see, much more clearly, the path that God has set before us in life.
Third, Jesus promises us eternal life. “Because I live, you also will live.” Our love for Jesus will lead us to eternal life with Jesus. By loving Jesus, we are able to share in Jesus’ victory over death. A relationship of love leads to a relationship of life.
And finally, our love for Jesus will result in our receiving love from both Father and Son, God and Jesus. “Those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them.” Now, this can get a little confusing, so let’s be clear on a couple of points. First, this doesn’t mean that God loves only those who love Jesus. God loves the whole world, God loves every single person who has ever lived and who ever will live.
Also, this doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love us until we love Jesus. In a few minutes we’re going to be singing, “O how I love Jesus, because he first loved me.” God loves us always; God loves us before we even know who God is, and God continues loving us, always and forever.
However, those of us who love Jesus will be able to experience a whole new depth of love from God and Jesus. Love is at its best when love is returned. God loves everyone, but those who return God’s love are the ones who will receive the blessing of knowing God’s love. Those who don’t love Jesus are not even aware of God’s love for them – which, of course, is the main part of their problem. They don’t know about the blessings that could be theirs.
Which brings us back to what we need to be doing, in obedience to Jesus’ commandments. By loving others – by loving people who don’t know about Jesus, specifically – we help shine the light of God’s love on them. By loving them, we help them to come to know and love Jesus, just as we do. We help them to share in the blessings that are available for everyone: the blessing of the Holy Spirit, the blessing of spiritual sight, the blessing of eternal life, and the blessing of experiencing God’s love.
The key to all this is that we must love Jesus, and keep Jesus’ commandments. For every action there is a reaction. Love leads to more love. As disciples of Jesus Christ, you and I are called to live our lives filled with love.