Five Understandable Words for Today

“This is love for God…”  1 John 5:3

As John writes his concluding remarks in his first letter to the newly birthed church, he reminds us of the one essential and unique dynamic of Christianity – being born again through faith in Christ. (v.1: “…born of God.”) His letter provides evidence that some Christians in the first century church may have doubted their faith. John assures the new Believers that everyone who loves the Father demonstrates their faith through the love and acceptance for other Believers. (v.1d) John approaches the issue as if teaching elementary students when he states: “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands” (v.2) He presents a simple rationale to the newborn of the faith: love for God must come before love for our fellow man. When we love the Father, we are motivated to draw near to Him, know His heart, and learn from His precepts. A child is often more a statement of the parents than of the child him/herself. This is not always true, as I have close Christian friends who have multiple children where one took a totally divergent path from his biblical upbringing, breaking his parent’s hearts and living a life of confusion and recklessness.

In drawing near to God, one grows to understand salvation’s story woven through history and culminating in the person of Jesus Christ. The heart of God was demonstrated in offering His only Son as the perfect sacrifice for our sin(s). It was always about God’s heart reaching out to our heart and making it new. As part of the family of God, we are exposed to the ways of His family – the working understanding of His goodness and holiness. So, in today’s five understandable words, John teaches the reader the one dynamic of demonstrating love for God: obedience.

This world doesn’t like that word very much. It is actually a very positive word. Obedience recognizes both authority and subordination. One must embrace the system of authority to work effectively within it. Obedience also conveys accountability. One who takes direction from a superior must expect a point of inspection – proof of compliance to the command. To reject the system of obedience is rebellion. The Bible describes rebellion as in the same league as witchcraft, and inferring one arrogantly snubs one’s nose at God while worshiping the idols of this world. (Read 1 Samuel 15:23)

What could be so objectionable about loving others anyway? Why is it such a hard thing to do for some people? Are we really empowered to love those who are difficult? What about those who hate us? How about loving those who are completely polar opposites of us? If you are from a family with multiple children, you know all about the fights between siblings and the territorial rivalries over everything from bathroom privileges to who sits where at the dinner table. The same thing happens in God’s family… really. You may not believe me, but I’ve seen conflicts between Christians about the most ridiculous things: how many times a chorus is sung; the color of the nursery walls; should there be choir robes; hanging a screen for projection, etc. These conflicts between church members can divide friendships, small groups, and sometimes churches.

Loving others IS difficult, that’s why it’s important to first love God with all your heart, soul, and strength. (Read Luke 10:27; Matthew 22:37) When we love God first, we are given His heart to love His children as a testimony before the world that we are, indeed, God’s children and followers of Christ. It is critically important to get that right first, THEN loving one’s Sisters and Brothers in the faith may still face challenges, but it will be more fully understood and embraced as the only way to proceed with The Great Commission TOGETHER… that the whole world may know the joy of life in Christ and the hope of heaven!

Because of Christ,