November 10, 2014

I love Him because He first loved me

Last week, I listened to a lecture and read about the difficulties of Bible translation. Some translation teams put the emphasis on getting the words as close as they can to what they think the original author wanted to say (formal equivalence). Other translators are more concerned about the people who will be reading it, so they try to translate those ancient languages into understandable contemporary terms (dynamic equivalence).

Either way, the translators cannot avoid interpretation, but thankfully most if not all are sincere and do the best they can. By comparing various translations, I can see the differences and the challenges. For instance, some passages are ambiguous, meaning the interpretation could go one way or the other. Some leave that ambiguity in the translation. Some decide which side is more certain and translate it accordingly. This rarely affects major doctrines. Besides, all important Bible teachings are backed up by repetition elsewhere. This means most of today’s translations are reliable. My seminary professors say it is best to pick a ‘formal equivalence’ for study and used 3-4 other translations for comparison.

Some passages are so loud and clear that it doesn’t matter which version of the Bible I am reading. For instance, the devotional passage for today offers words from Jesus. He repeats Himself, likely for emphasis, because what He says is as plain as it could be . . . “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:15–26)

From this I hear Jesus saying that He measures my love for Him by my obedience. He sent the Holy Spirit to help me obey and also, He will come back to earth one day. Right now, I can see Him and experience the unity I have with Him and the Father.

What does this tell me about the mind of Christ? First, that He never thinks about being rebellious nor does He want me to drift off and be disobedient. I’m thinking of my children when they were small. Obedience was vital. Sure, I wanted it for my peace of mind (Jesus isn’t selfish like I am), but because I loved them, I didn’t want them to hurt themselves or hurt others. Obedience was mostly not for me but for their own good. That is how Jesus thinks; He wants me to obey, not just to show my love for Him, but also for my own good.

He plans also to come back. The first time He came, He was not welcomed but crucified. Yet He loves His people and has a plan for us for eternity. He is thinking about my eternal well-being and will do what is required to settle that forever. He will come for me because He loves me that much.

I was strongly tempted yesterday to disobey Him, but as I read these words and thought about how much He loves me, how could I not love Him? And if I love Him, then I will do as He asks.

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