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The Epistles of John (Part 45): 1 John 5:2-3

by Stephen Hebert on Saturday - 1 August 2009

in Biblical Studies, New Testament

This is the 45th part in an ongoing series on the epistles of John.

English Standard Version Nestle-Aland 27
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. ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἀγαπῶμεν τὰ τέκνα τοῦ θεοῦ, ὅταν τὸν θεὸν ἀγαπῶμεν καὶ τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ ποιῶμεν. αὕτη γάρ ἐστιν ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ τηρῶμεν, καὶ αἱ ἐντολαὶ αὐτοῦ βαρεῖαι οὐκ εἰσίν.

Some may read this, growl at their screens, and say, “Nuh uh! What is all of this business about commandments? I thought that we were interested in community and fellowship.”

It’s true, I really think that the heart of God, as expressed in 1 John is about two things: community and idolatry (we’ll see idolatry especially in the final sentence of the epistle). However, part of that community and part of avoiding idolatry is obedience, willfully submitting to the commands that he has written on our hearts.

The idea that these commands aren’t “burdensome” seems ridiculous. I’ve always had difficulty with Jesus saying “my yoke is easy.” Is it really? Why does it seem so hard? Why do most Christians (myself included) seem to have extreme difficulty putting that yoke on our backs?

Why does following God seem like such a burden?

I wish I had the answer. I wish I knew how to make following God’s commandments an easy process. But, I don’t. In fact, the problem for me is much deeper than simply following God’s commandments. Often I feel like I don’t even know what it is that he’s asking of me.

Sure, I can look at the Old Testament and see all of the Law. But, it’s supposed to be OK for me to ignore that because that Law was fulfilled in Christ. So, if I follow Christ, then I should be in good shape.

Jesus himself gives two commandments:

  1. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind. (Matt 22:37)
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:39)

Those seem pretty straightforward. 1 John seems to offer a different version of #2 by pointing out, quite strongly, that we must love those who are our fellows in this journey with God. Holy cow! That’s difficult sometimes. Some Christians make themselves extremely difficult to love, don’t they? (Perhaps you’re thinking this of me, right now.)

So, those are some commandments for us to follow. But, I think that most people feel like God has put other mandates on their lives. For some these are notions of sins, e.g., drinking, smoking, dancing. They get wrapped up in these commands. For others (and I put myself in this category), it’s about personal mandates — what is God asking of me personally? What does God want me to do?

To be constantly in a state of introspection, trying to figure out the path or figure out the way that you are headed is a tough spot to be. This is where I feel like I live most of the time — in constant thought (and sometimes prayer) about what’s next, what am I supposed to do, where should I go, etc.

Is this just adding burden to what should be an easy load?

Am I guilty of adding to the gospel (gospel+)? Or am I working through this notion of commandment in a healthy way?

Here’s the big question: Has my personal journey become an idol?

Article Series - The Epistles of John

  1. The Epistles of John (Part 1): 1 John 1:1–4
  2. The Epistles of John (Part 2): 1 John 1:5
  3. The Epistles of John (Part 3): 1 John 1:6–7
  4. The Epistles of John (Part 4): 1 John 1:8–10
  5. The Epistles of John (Part 5): 1 John 2:1
  6. The Epistles of John (Part 6): 1 John 2:2
  7. The Epistles of John (Part 7): 1 John 2:3–6
  8. The Epistles of John (Part 8): 1 John 2:7–8
  9. The Epistles of John (Part 9): 1 John 2:9–11
  10. The Epistles of John (Part 10): 1 John 2:12
  11. The Epistles of John (Part 11): 1 John 2:13
  12. The Epistles of John (Part 12): 1 John 2:14
  13. The Epistles of John (Part 13): 1 John 2:15
  14. The Epistles of John (Part 14): 1 John 2:16
  15. The Epistles of John (Part 15): 1 John 2:17
  16. The Epistles of John (Part 16): 1 John 2:18
  17. The Epistles of John (Part 17): 1 John 2:19
  18. The Epistles of John (Part 18): 1 John 2:20
  19. The Epistles of John (Part 19): 1 John 2:21
  20. The Epistles of John (Part 20): 1 John 2:22
  21. The Epistles of John (Part 21): 1 John 2:23–25
  22. The Epistles of John (Part 22): 1 John 2:26–27
  23. The Epistles of John (Part 23): 1 John 2:28
  24. The Epistles of John (Part 24): 1 John 2:29
  25. The Epistles of John (Part 25): 1 John 3:1–3
  26. The Epistles of John (Part 26): 1 John 3:4–6
  27. The Epistles of John (Part 27): 1 John 3:7–10
  28. The Epistles of John (Part 28): 1 John 3:11–12
  29. The Epistles of John (Part 29): 1 John 3:13
  30. The Epistles of John (Part 30): 1 John 3:14-18
  31. The Epistles of John (Part 31): 1 John 3:19–22
  32. The Epistles of John (Part 32): 1 John 3:23–24
  33. The Epistles of John (Part 33): 1 John 4:1–3
  34. The Epistles of John (Part 34): 1 John 4:4–6
  35. The Epistles of John (Part 35): 1 John 4:7-8
  36. The Epistles of John (Part 36): 1 John 4:9
  37. The Epistles of John (Part 37): 1 John 4:10
  38. The Epistles of John (Part 38): 1 John 4:11-12
  39. The Epistles of John (Part 39): 1 John 4:13–14
  40. The Epistles of John (Part 40): 1 John 4:15
  41. The Epistles of John (Part 41): 1 John 4:16–17
  42. The Epistles of John (Part 42): 1 John 4:18–19
  43. The Epistles of John (Part 43): 1 John 4:20–21
  44. The Epistles of John (Part 44): 1 John 5:1
  45. The Epistles of John (Part 45): 1 John 5:2-3

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