Our neighbor said of our dog: “I know she loves Jesus, but she is a thief.” That may work for dogs, but what about people? Can I love Jesus and be a thief?
The short answer is, yes, but it is more complicated than that. Jesus did say, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.” It seems then that the crux is, “obey my teaching.” What did he mean?
It is easy and tempting to turn to the Ten Commandments, but that will not get us very far. Jesus dismantled them to some extent by saying that we all cheat, steal, and lie. Yes, we should not murder, but we all murder by thinking bad thoughts about others; by wishing that someone would just go away; by saying less than good things about a person.
If I am guilty of murder, can I still love Jesus? Yes. I need to recognize that my bad thoughts and words are murderous and that I need to cease such thoughts and words. When I murder again with someone else, or in some other way, I need to work on it again. Following Jesus is a life-long process. If I love Jesus, I will want to work at doing and acting as he did.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” NIV While Jesus lived a perfect human life and encouraged us to follow him, he knew that we would continue to fall short. He also told us numerous times that forgiveness was always available. God is a God of mercy, not punishment. Jesus always stressed God’s forgiveness.
When we go to live with God, we will no longer have to work at following Jesus, for, Nothing that has cursed mankind shall exist any longer. Phillips Our sins are not allowed to enter heaven; we have to leave them at the entrance. That is only possible because Jesus will tell God that we have done our best to follow him in the path of love, and he will ask God to forgive us by His mercy.
Be righteous and do good.