I know I have written a lot recently about the German Philosopher Immanuel Kant and his categorical Imperative, but I saw something this morning that stunned me from John 15:11 and I must tell you about it.
For those of you just coming into this discussion, Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative is this: an action can only be moral and virtuous, if the person doing the action gains nothing from it. So, to the degree that you gain anything, from doing any action, to that degree, it is an immoral action. If Kant had his way, he would have us all be disinterested in the things we do. This is not Biblical, but I am writing about this again because I think so many of you believe this! Now to John 15:11.
John 15:11 says, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” This statement gives the purpose for the previous 10 verses. That means 15:1-10 were spoken by Jesus for our joy. Think about how the purpose statement in 15:11 applies to 15:9-10. Jesus says, “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” Jesus clearly teaches that keeping His commandments is the way to remain in His love; this is describing obedience.
TOO OFTEN, Christians think of obedience to God in a KANTian manner. We say, we think, we believe, and act upon this thought: “If I am to obey God, I must put pleasure and delight aside. If I am to have pleasure and delight, I cannot obey God.” Does Jesus believe this? NO! John 15:11 teaches us that this idea about putting pleasure aside to obey God is a lie. Rather, Jesus told us that obedience to His commandments (15:9-10) for the purpose of making our joy full (15:11). What does that mean? Jesus told us to obey Him so that we could have the fullness of joy! This means that obedience to Jesus is the fullness of joy, not the absence of it. Kant’s imperative is again….wrong. Pursue your joy in Jesus with all the might you can muster, by obeying His commandments.