Jesus said “remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love” (John 15:9-10). The fact that Jesus used the word “if” (ἐὰν in Greek) must not be under-appreciated. It is part of Christianity’s inheritance from Judaism that the spiritual life cannot be divorced from the observation of divine laws. The love of God is inextricably united to obedience to God’s commandments. If we keep the commandments that Jesus taught us, we will remain in his love. If we don’t keep them, there is a problem that must be addressed.
Confronting the reality of what Jesus is saying should not lead us to see Jesus as a selfish child. A selfish child says: “you can be my friend, as long as you do whatever I tell you.” To perceive the difference, read the entirety of the verses that this reflection began with: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” Jesus is a gateway to the Father (unlike any other human being). He gives us commandments to help us remain not only in His love, but ultimately in the Father’s love. In doing this, he is far more than a helpful friend.