Evaluating Our Path

I know it’s not Christmas…but that scene is just delightful to me! It reminds me of what we’re going to be studying this Sunday, as we read 1 John 2:3-11.

John is going to sniff at the way some people who claim to be Christians live and say “You sit on a throne of lies…you smell like beef and cheese, you don’t smell like Jesus!”

Well…he doesn’t say that exactly – but its close. The way Venus is close to Earth kind of close.

John is providing a means of evaluating the path our life is taking. He does so by posing three false ideas and refuting them.

First, he says if we know him (God), we will keep his commands. What do you think it means to KNOW  God? What commands do you think he’s talking about? Does John 13:34-35 provide any insight on what he may have in view?

This is the big distinction between keeping commands in order to be saved, and keeping commands because we are saved. John doesn’t say “in order to know him you must…”, but rather, “IF you know him, you will…”.  John is providing an evaluation for our lives – if what we say or claim to be has no apparent outworking in our living, there may be a reason to examine if we’ve really ever come into relationship with God.

He can’t be talking about sinless perfection or even doing this well…as we learned from our study last week. I believe he’s talking about an overall direction in life. When we make choices and decisions in life, does God play any part in it at all? If not…John is warning that our pants may be on fire. (get it? Liar, liar, pants….oh never mind)

Then John talks about a commandment that isn’t new, except that it’s new. That could be confusing, but he is most likely referring to how Christ didn’t introduce some new commandment out of thin air, but that the fullness of all of God’s commands are realized in him, and newly expressed in his command that we cited above (John 13).

It all boils down to love. Love one another – we can’t claim to be enlightened by Christ and continue to hate our fellow human being. The two are incompatible. Why do you think that is? How can love be the total fulfillment of God’s commands?

Hope to see you this Sunday!

2 responses to “Evaluating Our Path”

  1. I think the commandments he is referring to may include anything Jesus said but specifically he may be referring to Mark 12 when Jesus is asked to tell which is the greatest commandment and he says “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” All the commandments of the Law are brought together with one word – Love. If we love we will not steal; if we love we will not commit adultery; if we love we will not murder, etc. To know God is to know what love is since God is Love. John is saying that really all these “old” commandments have not changed. They were always about love to start with.

    I read once from a well known Christian author that out of all the difficult questions that were asked of him about the Christian faith the one he had the most trouble with is if Christ is supposed to have transformative power in our hearts and minds why don’t Christians look any different from everyone else? Why is the divorce rate among Christians the same as the rest of the culture? Why do Christians seem just as discontented and unhappy as everyone else? I suppose this is because the “darkness has blinded our eyes.” We have not fully accepted the love God has given us and have not transferred that love onto our fellow human beings. And again this not about being saved or not. Its about being able to live our lives in the “light.” Indeed at times I feel like I am stumbling around in the darkness when I feel anger towards people in my life. And when those around me see a person stumbling around in the dark it doesn’t exactly make them think there is something special about me that they would want for themselves. It doesn’t appear to them that Christ has really transformed my heart. So to walk the walk in this case or “walk in the same way in which he walked” we must replace hate with love at all costs even when it would be much easier to go on hating. We have to make that conscious choice to move in a direction of love.

  2. When we know someone we understand who they are, what makes them “tic”. We perceive their motives, the things they care about the things important to them. This is not an overnight process, it takes time spent with them. Knowing someone is different than merely being acquainted with them. When we first brushed up against this all loving God, at least for me, His love and acceptance astounded me, pulled me out of the darkness and into His light.. Experiencing His unconditional love and saving grace made me want more of Him, want to know Him more intimately. His love is “new” in essence to any other love spoken about or experienced. Jesus is the picture the very essence of love…He is love as the scriptures say. When he walked the earth we saw a different kind of love expressed…not simply a don’t murder, don’t steel, kind of love but a deeper don’t hate kind of love expressed…He cut to the heart of the matter, where the rubber meets the road if you will. 1 Corinthians 13 describes this new love in day to day terms reminding us that love does not seek it’s own will, love suffers long and is kind, love believes the best about others, love thinks no evil, and furthermore if we do all kinds of giving, even to the extent of giving everything we have to the poor, if we have the faith to move mountains, if we prophesy great mysteries and are given great revelations, we still are nothing and have totally missed the point if we don’t love!! He didn’t stop there Jesus told us to love not only those easy to love who love us but to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us and despitefully use us….He cried out to his father from the cross saying, Father forgive them for they know not what they do…this is a BIG love, not simple “love you man” love, this is the kind of love that sacrifices, the kind that loves in the face of hate, rejection, offense and abandonment. This is the love that shows the world that we are different… But how in the world can we pull this off..I have wondered this much, this is not easy by far, it doesn’t come natural at all, yet it is the true test of our faith, the very essence of our Christianity, the one thing we can Not neglect…the answer I believe is twofold..First it is only possible as we truly know Him…As we mentioned earlier, we got a glimpse, a minuscule taste of His love in salvation and that drew us to want more..as we spend time with Him in his word pondering His thoughts, His heart and His ways, communicating with Him, His love for us and for a hurting world consumes us and then becomes contagious…as we realize His great love for us we are able to better love those around us….When we feel our love waining we have to remember His great love for us and how greatly He pardoned us. In the parable of the unforgiving servant, a man’s servant was forgiven a huge debt yet, so quickly forgot this great mercy which had been extended to him and went right out and found a fellow servant who owed him a smaller sum and threw him mercilessly into prison…We as humans are prone to this, to forgetting the darkness we came from and Him who Loved us back to life and light..In the parable, the merciless servants’ master heard of how he treated his brother and became angry and delivered him to be tortured until he paid all of his debt as well….If we have been forgiven we MUST forgive…Unforgiveness can restrict what God can do in the lives of others….On the other hand His Love has inherent in it the potential for changing people, just as it changed us…Choice is the other huge piece in the puzzle of expressing love in the face of lovelessness…When we choose to love and forgive with His help, we have shown Him to the world. We have given another a glimpse of His, not only head turning but heart changing love and that is the point!!! Let’s ask Him to help us, to remind us, to impart into us His heart for those around us!!

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