“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” – 1 John 5:1-3
The Apostle John was a man who spoke the truth in love, even very hard truth. As he was writing, there was dissension and division in the church. People were being led astray by claims that Jesus either was not the Son of God or he was not truly a man. These errant teachings undermined the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Only the perfect Son of God could offer himself as a perfect sacrifice for sins. If Jesus had not taken on human flesh, he could not have fully identified with his children.
John writes that belief in the incarnate Son of God is the foundation of our faith. It is the truth upon which the Christianity is grounded. To love God is to love his Son, and to love the Son is then to love the children of God. This is not the superficial kind of love we see on our TV screens. Instead, it is a love that comes from obedience. A child of God is overwhelmed by the love God has lavished upon him or her (1 John 3:1). The child then chooses to pour out that love on their brothers and sisters. Some people are very easy to love, and some people are very difficult to love. John would say love them both!
Before his betrayal, Jesus knelt on the ground and washed the feet of each disciple. Following this amazing demonstration of love and humility, he said: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). By washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus, the Son of God, had performed a task of the lowliest household servant. He humbled himself to serve others, exemplifying the kind of love his disciples were to have for one another and those to whom they would be sent.
The call to love was not optional for the disciples. True followers of Jesus believed in and loved the triune God, and they obeyed his commandments. To love was to obey. While disciples then and now might cringe at these words, John reminds his readers that the commandments of the Lord are not burdensome. Instead, they bring life, protection, and the fullness of joy. It is much like the loving parent who sets parameters for her children. She sets those restrictions, not to contain the child or withhold fun, but to provide a safe place to live, play, and thrive. The Lord has given us his commandments so that we may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).
Reflect & Respond:
Do you view the commandments of the Lord as boundaries in which you can thrive or as restrictions on your fun? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our new six-week Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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