FAITH IS VICTORY OVER THE WORLD
January 9, 2014
Today’s reading: 1 John 4:19-5:4
We are called to love one another. This is because of who our God is, and what He commands us to do. God loves us with an eternal love, creating us in His image and likeness. God manifested that love by sending His own Son into the world to suffer and die for us. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 Jn 4:19).
Because God loves us, because He created us and knows what is best for us, because we have been purchased at a price by the sacrifice of Jesus, then we must obey Him, as children obey parents and servants obey masters. “For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.” (1 Jn 5:3a).
Now what is one important commandment we have from God? “This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 Jn 4:21). Thus there is a progression: love of God for us –> our love for God in return –> our obedience to God –> our love for our brethren.
Now when God created us in His image and likeness, we became His children. When Jesus gave his life for us on the cross, we were restored to our sonship in Christ. God created everyone, and Jesus died for everyone. Thus we are all part of the family of God, and we are all brothers and sisters to one another. Here is the reality: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the father loves also the one begotten by him.” (1 Jn 5:1). If we accept Jesus us Messiah, Savior and Lord, we are children of God. If as children of God we love Him as our Father, then we also must love His other children.
Now here is a blessed circle. How do we know that we love God and obey His commandments? By loving one another. How do we know that we love one another? “In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments.” (1 Jn 5:2). The two are intimately intertwined. The two go together. It cannot be one without the other.
This is why John is able to make a startling statement. “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar” (1 Jn 4:20a). Wow! How many Christians claim to love God but have anger, disdain or even hatred for their brethren? Indeed, it is easy enough to love God, because He is very lovable. But how can we love the one who speaks against us, maligns us, attacks us, oppresses us, betrays us, cheats us, stabs us in the back, etc.? John says plainly: “whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 Jn 4:20b).
We love in the concrete, in the here and now, in the imperfect situations of our lives. We love not with our defective human love, but precisely with the very love of God. The love of God is love for enemies, even those who sent Jesus to the cross. Since we are children of God, made in His image and likeness, God wants us to learn about His kind of love. This is unilateral, unconditional and self-sacrificial.
Wow. That is very hard. But at the same time, “his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 Jn 5:3b). God’s commandments are not burdensome if we strive to become like Him, to be holy as He is holy, to be true disciples of Jesus, to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. On our own we cannot succeed. We can only succeed if we become other Christs. Jesus already conquered the world. He is victorious over sin and Satan. We share in that victory. “And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.” (1 Jn 5:4b). With faith in Jesus we can succeed.
Now we can see the whole picture. God created us and we are His children. God commands us to love one another so we can be credible witnesses to the world. As such, we can be empowered to be effective co-workers in the work of spreading God’s love and light to the whole world, by means of the work of evangelization. Then we will truly see that “whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.” (1 Jn 5:4a).
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God bless you all.
“For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.” (Phil 1:21)