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
Back during my time in the corporate world, our office had a weekend retreat focused on team dynamics and morale. To break the tension from numerous meetings throughout the day, our bosses set up an evening of laser tag to blow off some steam. What was supposed to be fun became highly competitive real quick. Looking back at it now, I don't think it was a bright idea to deal with conflict by handing employees weapons (even if they were play toys).
After every session, we'd head out to the lobby to see where we ranked. Up on a big television screen for everyone to see were our scores. The pressure to perform caused everyone to morph into Rambo. Rather than bringing us closer as a team, the tension of proving we were the best made us all mercenaries.
We live in a culture that's centered on performance-based love. Those who can cut it are worthy and valuable. Those who can't are expendable. Without even knowing it, we project this mindset on to God Himself. Worried about where we stand, we get to work following rules in hopes of receiving His check of approval.
By having this perspective, we make our faith about us instead of what Jesus did on our behalf. It also influences our relationships with others. Rather than connect with them, we're competing and comparing ourselves.
Our minds and hearts have a hard time comprehending the depths of Jesus' love and how drastically different it is from anything else we've ever experienced. We mistake His commands as rules to follow instead of what they are intended for: to build intimacy, grow our faith, and strengthen our trust in Him.
Today's passage from 1 John 5 puts our obedience in perspective.
We obey out of love rather than trying to earn it. Rather than being oppressive, His commands are an opportunity for us to be expressive. They don't inhibit; they liberate and free us. Jesus cares more about how we respond to Him than how we perform.
A walk with Christ is about following Jesus...not the rules.
What commands feel burdensome to you and why?
Where are you trying to prove your worth to God and others?
God, may the joy I have in my heart overflow through obedience. I will obey your commands not out of obligation, but because I know that they help me understand more of Your heart. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.