It’s 4:30am, Palm Sunday. I have to get up in a few hours and teach the young children in church today, yet instead of sleeping, I’m up fighting a terrible allergy attack.
Since I can’t sleep I thought I might as well read. I never expected this.
For years I have struggled with this verse. I was taught it in the older language, “If ye love me, keep my commandments”.
In my legalistic culture growing up, I was taught this was threat from God. I could imagine Him shaking His finger at me…”If you REALLY love me, Emily, you’d better prove it by being perfect and keeping all my commandments without fail!!!”
If I stumbled, then I didn’t really love God.
If I sinned, then I didn’t really love God.
If I messed up, then didn’t really love God.
It was an impossible burden to bear. On one hand I was taught that I must prove my love and loyalty to God by being perfect, but on the other hand, I was taught I was a hopeless sinner with a wicked heart, not possible of doing any good.
For three years now I have tried to redeem this verse. To find the truth. Find the grace. Find the peace. Find the hope.
But I couldn’t. Until now.
Enter, The Passion Translation. While I understand this is a paraphrase translation, these types of translations are imperative for people, like me, who have been spiritually abused. We can’t separate God’s Word from the lies we were taught, so using a radically different text, one that is in a modern tone, is sometimes the only form of Scripture we can handle.
Anyway, tonight I came accross this verse in TPT. And I cried, y’all. Big, ugly tears.
Why is this important?
Who/What is Love? It’s Jesus. JESUS empowers us to live holy lives. Not us. Not our own will power. Not our human weakness. But Jesus within us. HE gives us the power to love, and love gives us the power to obey.
Oh, what freedom! Oh, what hope! Jesus transforms. Jesus empowers. Jesus fills. THIS is a grace-based Gospel. Not finding a license to sin — but realizing that Jesus already completes us, and so we are free to live out a life of thankfulness; a life of loving. Loving God and loving others.
And those are the two greatest commandments of all.
Emily Elizabeth Anderson is a Christian blogger and rising activist for people who have experienced abuse within a Christian environment.
After growing up in a fundamentalist cult for 23 years and experiencing childhood domestic violence, Emily began her journey to recovery in 2015 and eventually found Jesus to be her ultimate healer. She soon turned her passion for writing into a blog and her story has since been featured on several media outlets including NPR.
She married her best friend, Joshua, in 2020 and together they are passionate about educating on the realities of trauma survival and recovery, as well as supporting survivors they meet through their online community.