How to stay in God’s love, Secret to Change.
Acts 15:1-2,22-29, Revelation 21:10-14,22-23, John 14:23-29
When I read the gospel of today, my mind immediately flashed back to how a friend of mine recounted to me his ordeals and how his life changed for good.
In the gospel, Jesus tells his disciples, “If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him”.
With this statement, Jesus reveals the only way to prove our love for Him. In essence, the only way we can prove our love for Jesus is to keep His word.
A friend of mine now narrated to me how this particular verse changed his life and the life of their entire family for good. According to him, the family has stayed in a total division for nine good years.
This has led to many misunderstandings, court cases, division and even the death of some members of the family. Not only that, this has led the family into many untold hardships, because most of the family resources they get which should be invested in their progress and growth were channelled to court cases. At a point, many members of the family began to live in debt and hardship.
The hardship continued and then some of them began to seek solutions to their problems and how to solve them. The point is that the problem is there but they were seeking a solution without first addressing the root cause of the problem.
So, my friend narrated to me how he met a well-known priest for prayers and liberation. The priest as usual gave him some prayer and spiritual activities to do. He said that it was during this spiritual activity, during one of the times of His meditation that he stumbled upon this biblical statement.
One may ask, how does this statement change him? My friend narrated that when he read this statement which says
“If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him” means that if we truly want to prove our love for Jesus, then we have to keep His word.
In that statement, Jesus added what we may call a reward or benefit, which is “the Father will love him and we shall come to him and make our home with him”.
In essence to keep the word of God is not only just to prove the love we have for Jesus, keeping what He says and living by it, is a true and life assurance of the love of Jesus and Father and their everlasting presence with the person.
Therefore, the Father and Son assure their presence and love too for anyone who keeps and lives on the word.
Even before this particular verse, Jesus has also said “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever” (John 14:15-16).
In essence, Jesus also promises the everlasting and abiding presence of the Holy Spirit to anyone who walks according to the word of God ” And if we have such a mighty and ever-abiding presence of the Holy Trinity, it is simply a secret to inner change.
No one can live by God’s word and remain the same. Your life must change for the better. You will become the abode of the Holy Trinity. When God is with you, you will live in His love, You will live in peace and your hearts will never be troubled again.
This is why David Prays in Psalm 23 “The Lord is my shepherd, he shall not want, that even if he walks in the valley of the shadow of death, he fears no evil because He knows that God is with Him” .
This assurance of the ever-abiding presence of God, assures us innermost tranquillity, peace, love, divine protection and courage even in the time of trouble”.
This is why Jesus also tells His disciples today “do not let your hearts be troubled”. Therefore, with this ever-abiding presence, we do not have to worry. When we live by His word, we are already assured that we are guided by the light of His word”. Walking and living by His word, is already a light unto our path.
Before I digress please, let us continue the story. So, A friend told me that this hit him like a nail. He went home and called the family together and told them if they truly want to change they have to stay in God’s love. If they love each other, things must change.
From there, everything changed. Immediately the family transformed their quarrelling family into a loving family. The word of God became their guide. The word of God brought change to them because it is still by following God’s word which asks them to live in peace that they would live in peace.
It is by following God’s word which asks them to live in love that they would live in love. If we truly want to change, we have to stay in God’s love and the only guide to show or prove that we are staying in God’s love is by keeping His word.
When we keep His word, our lives must change. By then we are no longer living by our power but by the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.
Always work for Peace.
There are times when we encounter problems and misunderstandings in our lives, families and places of work, we seek and choose to cause more division instead of living in peace.
There are times when we face problems and difficulties. Instead of seeking a divine solution out of it, we seek the evil way out of it and we forget that evil begets more evil and good begets more good.
When we seek to solve a problem with division, and problems we create more divisions. When we seek to solve a problem with hatred, we create more hatred. But when we seek to solve a problem with peace, we create more of it.
In the first reading of today, the early disciples encountered a problem, and they didn’t allow this problem to linger. Immediately, they arrested and solved the situation. The first reading gives us a glimpse of how the early disciples solved problems among themselves.
In the first reason, some Jews were instructing some of the gentile converts that they must be circumcised according to the teachings of Moses before they can be saved. In essence, without circumcision which is a Jewish law, they will never be saved.
Luke narrates to us that this created dissensions and debate between Paul and Barnabas. They did not allow this little issue to linger. They sought the intervention of the apostles and the elders of the church.
Then the apostles and elders of the church in agreement with the whole church decided to choose representatives and send them to Antioch. They immediately corrected such erroneous views that would have brought division among them.
The early disciples teach us here that it is better to stay in God’s love than to live in the division.
In the midst of misunderstanding and division, it is better to work for peace and settle matters immediately than to continue to create more division.
Peace is the gift that Jesus gives to us before His agony. In the gospel, Jesus says “Peace I leave to you, my peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you”.
Therefore, the peace that Jesus gives surpasses whatever peace we think we can get from anyone. Let us always seek and work for this peace.
The Way to prove our Love.
Therefore, before Jesus goes into agony, He takes time to advise, encourage and guide His disciples. This is the content of this chapter fourteen of Saint John. At one point, many of the disciples of Jesus were worried.
You know, all this while, they have been with Jesus and they were all hoping for a day, the kingdom will be handed to them. Remember that they take Jesus as a political messiah and within a twinkle of an eye, the messiah was telling them that he is going away.
In verse 5 Thomas asked Him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going” Philip also asked him “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
When Jesus saw how troubled they are, he began to advise them. This is what led to today’s gospel. Jesus requests just one obligation from them, which is to keep His word.
He says in verse 21 “ Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
At the beginning of today’s gospel, Jesus says “If anyone loves me he will keep my word”. Therefore, it is by keeping His word that the apostles will prove their love for Jesus. Therefore, how to stay in God’s love is by doing whatever He says.
It is not shouting that we love Him yet we do not have time for Him. Also, it is not by convincing people that we are prayer warriors but by living the word of God. It is when we become the living gospel, changing the lives of others.
Therefore, how to prove our love for God is to live by His word. This is the way to stay in God’s love, this is the way to prove that we are true disciples of Jesus.
When We Keep His Word.
In today’s gospel, Jesus reveals in truth what happens when we live by His word. And they are:
a.Keeping His word is the way to be assured of divine presence. When Jesus says that He and the Father will live in anyone who keeps His words, it then means that anyone who lives in God’s word has made himself a dwelling place of the Trinity.
When the Trinity lives in us, our lives must change for good. It is then, that we shall live in inner peace. It is also then that we shall seek to be good always.
When God lives in us, our lives become Godly. We stay in God’s love. It is then we shall know the need to help one another. When God lives in us, we shall not admire living in sin. We will always have the motivation to make God happy.
It is also then that we shall learn how to forgive others and not harbour grudges. When God lives in us, we shall remain victorious. No power of the evil one can defeat us.
It is the way to divine breakthrough, anointing, power, holiness, and victory. This is a secret to inner change. It is the way to stay in God’s love. Therefore, staying in God’s love is the secret to radical change. If we want to change our lives for good, stay in God’s love and live by His word.
b.When we keep His word then it means that we are guided by the light of the gospel.
It means that God is now guiding and enlightening our path and God cannot lead us to darkness. Therefore, whoever walks in God’s word, walks according to the light.
c.We will then live in peace. He says in the gospel, that the peace that I give is different from that of the world. Therefore, when we keep His word, we will always live in peace. There is nowhere where God asks us to live in crisis.
d.When we keep His word, we will remain strong when adversity and trouble come. He says to the disciples “Do not let your hearts in trouble, Do not fear”. Remember that Jesus says this several times.
Therefore, keeping his word also includes not living in fear and allowing evil to reign because of fear.
e. In the gospel, Jesus says “ I will send you the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name and He will teach you everything. Therefore, when we live by his word it is already a decision to allow ourselves to be led by the spirit of God. Jesus says, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63)
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12-13).
F. Finally, it is the way to eternal life. In the gospel, Jesus says “You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return. If you loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father”.
Remember that In this chapter of John 14:2-3 Jesus promises them saying “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you also may be where I am”.
Therefore, if we prove that we love, He will also keep us wherever he will be. Therefore, to stay in God’s love leads to the highest reward which is eternal life.
He says in Matthew 16:26 “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? Therefore, eternal life is the highest reward we can get from Jesus.
The secret to this is by keeping his word.
1. Like the early disciples in today’s first reading, it is not good to allow division and problems to linger. Let us always seek ways to solve our problems immediately.
Many problems and divisions that we have today would have been solved with that little statement “I am sorry”. Many issues that we have today would have been solved by a little understanding and tolerance.
Did you see that in the first reading, even the Jews that were causing problems respected the decisions of the elders and did not go further in causing divisions?
Let us respect our elders and accept decisions that mean good to us. When a decision means good and for your peaceful coexistence, always accept it. Living in peace is better than living in the division.
2. Because of many divisions today, so many homes have been broken, families now live apart, and brothers and sisters are not afraid of each other. Because of misunderstanding, many siblings, friends and family, co-workers etc, do not trust each other again.
So many people do not come together as a family again and many cannot eat together. Most of the deaths that happened in some families would not have happened if we settled the cases amicably before.
But instead of the decision to stay in God’s love, we decide to do otherwise. We have neglected God’s word and abandoned his command to live the way we want.
3. The thought of an imminent separation from a person we love fills us with sadness and worry. With this, one could understand how the disciples felt when Jesus tells them that He is going away.
Certainly, they would not see him any longer, but Jesus reassured them that He is not going to abandon them. His love will still be with him and make up for his absence.
Today, we can still experience this love in the moments of our challenges and difficulties. We can encounter this love when we visit the Blessed Sacrament and receive the Holy Communion. The love of Jesus is real. Therefore, let us approach him to encounter His love.
4. Before Jesus leaves his disciples, the only gift He gives to them is the gift of peace. Therefore, this peace has already been given, it is now left for us to accept it or not.
We have to realise that we are the people who have neglected this precious gift.
There are times we are the cause of divisions in our communities, families, and places of work. There are times we have failed to show our love to others, there are also times we have chosen to be instruments of hatred and wickedness instead of instruments of love and peace.
This is the time we have to come back again and prove our love for Jesus.
5. Finally when Jesus says “do not be afraid” Jesus is asking us to be firm even when trouble comes. We do not close our mouths in fear and allow evil to reign. We have to always stand up and defend our faith.
As Christians, you will encounter many oppositions. Many people will stand against you, so many people will not believe in You. But in all these, never be afraid, for you are not alone.
When we live truly according to God’s word and stay in God’s love, our lives will change.
May God have mercy on us and give us the grace to live in peace and love. Amen.