May 25, 2020

I John 5:1-3a

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.

 

It comes as no surprise to read these verses from John. Once again he is talking about love for others and love for God. In chapter 3, he explained that meeting others’ needs is one way we can know we love God. Here he continues in a similar vein. 

This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.

I don’t mean to alarm you, but, depending on how you count them, there are somewhere between 300 and 1000 commands from God in the Old Testament alone. An oft-repeated number is 613 separate commandments from God, both things to do and things to avoid. All you need to do to be sure you love others is keep all of those commands. So, according to Leviticus 11, when choosing bugs to eat, only grasshoppers are locust are approved. In Leviticus 19 we read that mules (horse & donkey), beefalo (cow and buffalo), and ligers (the progeny of a lion and a tiger) are all forbidden. In the same chapter we read that clothing shouldn’t be woven from two different types of fibers. So that poly-blend you are wearing is an abomination. Whoops. How then do we demonstrate our love for God and his children? 

Thankfully Jesus comes to the rescue (haha!). In Matthew 22:37-40 he says that all the law and the prophets hang on just two commands. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. That feels easier to understand, although it also feels like a much higher standard than restricting my bug diet to grasshoppers. Here is the power of Jesus’ clarification: Our interior life, our motivation, becomes a much higher standard to adhere to. It doesn’t free us from active obedience, instead it means that actions divorced from those two guiding principles are not really acts of obedience at all.

What if you were to ask yourself, after every interaction, “Did I love that person the way I desperately want to be loved?” What if, at the end of every day, you were to ask yourself, “Did I give my body, mind, and spirit wholeheartedly to God today?” As our answers increasingly become “Yes!” it seems obvious that our love for others and for God will be clear.

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