1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child.??2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.??3For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome,??4for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.??5Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
6This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.
1 John 5.1-6
Let???s travel through this group of verses this morning. ??There???s a lot here and I want us to be able to put it together and make good sense out of what John wants to tell us. ??The last couple of weeks, we???ve talked about loving others. ??We know that our witness is strengthened and believed by others when they see the love Christians have for one another. ??When they know that we take care of our own and look after one another, they have every reason to believe our testimony, especially when it spills out into the lives of others. ??Our best evangelism is our witness of love.
But John gets personal with this passage, speaking primarily about the faith of believers and how we can know for OURSELVES that we are living as children of God. ??See, our faith is important not because life is complete once we believe, but because life begins once we believe. ??That beginning is what John is talking about here when he refers to being born of God. ??
When we come to understand through faith that Jesus is the Son of God, we have new life. ??Our faith grants us this new life because faith causes God???s love to be born in our hearts???a love that transforms us. ??This is why only faith in Jesus can give birth to a true understanding of God. ??Receiving this truth???that Jesus is the Son of God???grants us a spiritual birth, granting us the status of ???children??? in the kingdom of God. ??
But be warned that knowing who Jesus is is very different than having a relationship with him. ??Faith is not cold and objective, like knowing the capitals of each state or how to fix a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. ??Having faith in God results in loving him. ??To truly understand who Jesus is and what he has done for us means that we understand the love he has for us. ??When you actually take into your mind and heart the understanding and the magnitude of what God has done for you, there is a response of love and gratitude. ??Therefore, those who treasure the gift of God ??? which is sacrifice and salvation through Jesus Christ ??? are those who are born of God; given new life that begins here and now.
Now that we have spoken of accepting the love of God through faith, we must speak about how it relates to the children of God. ??To love God means that we love his children, as v.1 tells us. ??If you love a parent, you love their children. ??But what if you don???t love their children? ??Let???s say you have a friend and that person is the one you call when you want to have a good time. ??Maybe they???re your movie-date, Friday night dinner friend, or even your huntin??? buddy. ??This is the person you tell ???stuff??? to and even confess a little when things just haven???t been going your way. ??But then there is their family. ??You love your friend, but their kids or their spouse drive you crazy. ??The spouse talks non-stop and is so loud. ??The kids are a mess and honestly you can???t go anywhere with them. ??Now, step back. ??What does this say about the depth of love you have for your friend? ??You see, this friend loves their family. ??They???ve chosen in their marriage vows to forsake all others and commit themselves to this person in love. ??Their children are their offspring, the fruit of the their love with one another. ??They are committed and this small community of spouse and children is their ultimate love. ??
Now see the ???friend??? as God. ??He is the one that you come to, the one that is able to bring joy to your life, the one you tell things to and confess to when things just aren???t going the right way. ??God loves you. ??But God loves his family, too. ??The Church is his bride, the one he has laid his life down for through Jesus. ??His children are everything to him, the ones who bring joy to his heart and who have received life in Jesus through his Church. ??God has in fact created a community, one that he has chosen to save and redeem in the midst of their sin. ??And the beauty is that God has invited the world into his family, into his community, to receive life, purpose, and meaning through his shelter, the Church.
Know that God???s family comes first. ??He has poured out himself for those that will receive his gracious gift. ??God does not serve the selfish desires and ambitions of those who only wish to serve themselves. ??God has proven through Christ that he is about the business of shaping and forming a community, a family, that will love each other and welcome those outside in. ??God has set the example for what it means to love by committing himself to the world, creating and sustaining it with love and discipline. ??
Lastly. ??There is nothing more terrible than the things that seek to break-up a family. ??For the family of God, it is the devil and sin that seek nothing more than for us to serve ourselves rather than to contribute to the family of God. ??The second half of our scripture this morning reminds us that obeying God and his commandments prove that we are putting God first and care about what he says. ??If God is just and good, then the direction that he has set for us as the Father of our family is one that we can trust and even contribute to. ??We have been called to support him and his cause, to follow after him in mercy and in love. ??Therefore, those that love God obey God???s commandments.
God???s commandments shouldn???t be a burden to anyone. ??His commands are what contribute to the vision he has set-up for the redemption and transformation of the world. ??The life and ministry of Jesus give proof to God???s goal: to be a father to the fatherless and to set the captive free.
But when forces of wickedness seek to take us away from our family goals and direction, so we must be on guard. ??And this is where our faith becomes so important. ??Because our faith is what causes God???s love to be born and sustained in our hearts, we must do what is necessary to overcome the world and its distracting ways. ??And this can only be done through faith in Jesus. ??So we must believe and follow the words of the song, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey."
V.6 reminds us of our place in God???s family; that through blood we are forgiven and through water we are made clean. ??We have been adopted, grafted in, welcomed into the body of Christ and our faith will carry us through the trials of the world.
Therefore, children of God, look not to the world for definition, for purpose, or for a home. ??Look to God, the Creator of us all and the Father of those who would believe. ??Trust in Jesus and let not the world take you captive through its skewed and misunderstood ideas. ??But rather as the song says, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace." ??Amen.
Rev. Whit R. Martin
Pastor, New Liberty United Methodist Church
Devotional Blog ??? devoblog.posterous.com/