There is a great principle of the gospel. It is called obedience. Put differently, what the Lord says, that thou shalt do.
Obedience isn’t nearly as popular as some of the other principles of the gospel these days.
But Christ was sinless. He was perfect. If the God we love was defined by his perfect submission to his Father’s, can we not take more seriously his commandment to “Come follow me”? And can we follow Christ save we keep the commandments of the Father?
We like to speak of unconditional love that is the same for all men. But that is not what Christ speaks of. He uses very different language.
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.
Do we believe him?
This is different than what we think he should have said. If my own parents said to me “If you love and obey us, we will love you” I think I would be shocked that there was a condition attached to their offer of love. But that is exactly what Christ said to his twelve. Do we question him? Or do we believe him? Do we have faith in his word above our faith in our own traditions?
Christ measures our own love for him by our obedience. He said that “if a man love me, he will keep my words”, and he also said “he that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings”. Our professions of love for him are not his yardstick by which he measures our love for him. He measures it by our obedience.
James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
We could also say:
Even so your love for God, if it hath not obedience, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast love for God, and I have obedience: shew me thy love for God without thy obedience, and I will shew thee my love for God by my obedience. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that love for God without obedience is dead?
Going back to the words of the Savior “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him”, whatever we want to say about God’s love for us, he, himself, claims there is a transition to be made. He says that he will love us if we keep his commandments.
Now, someone is going to be all upset thinking I am saying God doesn’t love other people. But all I am saying is that Christ’s words are perfectly and exactly true. I think the message here is probably that there is a level of love that is enjoyed by those who keep his commandments that is far, far superior to the love the disobedient enjoy. I think that to deny that is to, frankly, claim that the Savior doesn’t know what he is talking about.
Given what the doctrine and covenants says about these verses, I think that we are not talking about a little obedience, we are talking about a lot of obedience. But yes, there is apparently a transition to be made. And it is only made as we keep god’s commandments.
2 Nephi 1:15 But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.
Whatever Lehi meant when he said he was encircled about eternally in the arms of god’s love, it was something that Laman and Lemuel were not recipients of.
There is a great enough difference between God’s love for the wicked, and his love for those who prove true and faithful, that Christ simply describes the situation thus: “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him”