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. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
1 John 5:1-5
As we begin the final chapter of John’s letter, John continues to tell us that we must love God and love each other. He’s been doing this for dozens of verses now, yet John is throwing us a curve in verse 2:
This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.
I’ve never heard anyone argue with the loving God part; that seems easy enough, but carrying out His commands is often a sticking point. As we have stated many times going through this letter, God’s commands can be summed up very easily. We are to love God, and love one another… and make disciples. That’s the one many people get stuck on… There are all kinds of criticisms for this, as though I (or someone else) made it up or something, but that is simply not the case. What was Jesus’ final command?
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
No, dear reader, I didn’t make this up. Since I have commented on this so many times already, rather than to explain it again, let’s just try a new approach. First, how can we ever say that we love God, but we won’t follow His command to share that love with others? How can we say we love others, and not share the love of God with them? That wouldn’t even make sense, would it? God first loved us, so He sent His Son to die for our sins. If we don’t share God’s love with others who are lost, are we not sharing because God really didn’t love them as much as He loved us?
We share with the lost and they enter into relationship with Jesus Christ; now they are our brother or sister in the Lord: Will we just stand by and watch them struggle with their new faith, or will we help them along their way? Which choice demonstrates love in action?
John goes on to mention that obeying His commands isn’t burdensome because in Him, we have overcome the world. Ever wonder what that has to do with anything? What is it that would hold us back from making disciples? Go ahead and make a short mental list of what might hold you back. Got it? OK, good. Does it have things like being afraid they’ll say no? How about not wanting others to think you’re weird? Maybe you’re afraid that you won’t know all the answers. Yes, there are other possibilities, but in my experience, these are the kinds of things people usually say. In Him, we’ve overcome the world, and these are thoughts of the world, not His thoughts. Was Jesus ever afraid of rejection or embarrassment or afraid of anything this world could do to Him? No. Why would we be concerned about such things? We have overcome the world because of our faith: Sometimes, like you, I need to remind myself about that.
To carry out God’s commands is not burdensome, because it is a joy. I can tell you from my own experience that there is no greater joy in this life than to see a person I have mentored, grow in their faith, and step up to serve God because of their love for Him− it is by far the greatest joy there is.