if you missed part one yesterday, you can check it out by CLICKING HERE! In part two today there are several verses that jumped out at me about what it means to walk with God, and the final verse today deals with an interesting consequence of being a follower of Christ.
Verses that jumped
Walking in the light is to walk as Jesus walked. John keeps this theme going for some time as he talks about abiding in the Lord.
1 John 2:6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
If you’re saying Jesus is your lord and savior, John says pretty clearly that your life should show it. It can’t be your saintly battle cry on Sunday before returning to your sinning way of life on Monday. Abide means to accept something or to act in accordance with something. So if you say you accept Jesus, if you’re saying you follow him, then John’s not mincing words or talking in riddles. Your walk should be like Jesus’. Now, God knows we’re not perfect, and I don’t for a second think John was suggesting we live sinless lives or be perfect, because it’s just not possible. But man, if we’re gonna claim Jesus, then we should be striving to live like Jesus lived, to hold true to the things he held true to.
One thing I’ve learned recently is just how much of a plague unforgiveness is. It’s everywhere and is something a lot of people I’ve met and spoken with are struggling with.
1 John 2:9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.
Unforgiveness kills, but the problem is that it kills you, not the person you’re refusing to forgive. I don’t believe John’s using the word brother here to refer to your blood relatives, but he’s talking about your fellow believers. I haven’t met every person at my church, but there’s almost certainly someone there that I just wouldn’t like. Different tastes, different views, whatever the case, there’s almost certainly someone there that just isn’t my cup of tea. But I love them. God loves everyone, and God tells me to love like he loves. To hate someone, or to harbor some unforgiveness or malice towards them, that’s going to do nothing but poison you. It’ll poison your joy, your well being, and as John writes in the above verse, it may even be a sign that you’re not correct in your walk with God.
There’s another, even more strongly worded version of this same thought in the next chapter.
1 John 3:10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
John was working to remind believers how to know the difference between these new, false believers (the ones I discussed at the start of part one yesterday), and true followers of Christ. But the beauty and magic of the bible is that it’s the living word of God, and it impacts us today just as it impacted John’s target audience a few thousand years ago. So I fully believe that God is talking to us through this verse. Again, it’s showing that there will be evidence in a true believer’s life, you will see them practicing righteousness. Like I said earlier, God knows we’re not perfect, but this verse is saying that if you’re seeing no righteousness at all in a person’s life, it’s probably a pretty good sign that they’re not following Jesus. And it also makes that mention of loving your brother again. John was big on repetition, hammering home main points again and again, and here’s an example of him showing us something that he felt was important enough to repeat.
Sometimes the bible surprises me most when it’s at it’s simplest. That was true in this next verse.
1 John 3:13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.
This one caught me off guard at first, but the more I thought about it the more profound it seemed. Have you ever been at a party where everyone is drinking heavily and you’re not drinking at all? At first you get barraged by requests to “join in the fun” and “just have one drink”. Refuse that and a short time later, as the other guests get more drink in them, the barrage of requests isn’t so friendly. “What, you don’t drink? You think you’re better than us?” I’m the opposite of a party person and rarely found myself in situations like this when I was younger, but this above example actually happened to me. Multiple people became downright angry with me because I wasn’t interested in drinking. I didn’t speak a word of condemnation to those who were drinking, gave not a single dirty glance, and yet my simple refusal to partake in the supposed “good times” made me their enemy.
This is us as true believers in the world today. And it was clearly true in the world a few thousand years ago, because here’s John dropping it in chapter 3. It’s almost nonchalant, too, how it’s just in there. Like he’s saying, of course they hate you! Your refusal to walk their path, to dwell in the darkness with them and partake of their sinful lifestyles, it’ll enrage people. Not every person, but there are those out there that will hate you simply because you are in the light and they are not.
Maybe this isn’t profound to anyone else, but it hit me hard. I like to think of unbelievers as friends who just haven’t stepped into the light yet. I love the idea of helping them take those steps, to be that person God can use to help them transition from death into eternal life. But John’s verse sobers me a little, and it reminds me of those parties. How it turned hostile, how I became an outsider even in the midst of friends simply because I wasn’t living as they were living. Some unbelievers are going to hate me. They are going to view me as an enemy. I need to be ready to meet that hatred with love, and to find a way to still relate to them the love of Jesus.
closing and prayer
Remember that Wednesday is a day off for the blog as I’ll be spending the day working and at church, but I’ll have part 3 up on Thursday as I continue to work through this incredible book of the bible.
For prayers today, I want to pray for something we can all relate to. I’m sitting here this minute trying to hurry, as I have several work commitments I need to get to. It can feel like time is always against us, that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all that we need to do. Too often, the thing that gets lost in the shuffle is our time with God. I tell you with full, absolute confidence, if I hadn’t been making time over the past months to study God’s word and to spend time with Him in prayer, I’d still be at square one with my walk with God. The single most absolute factor in my growing relationship with the Lord is the time I’ve invested into the relationship over the past few months. Just like any other relationship, if you’re not making time for someone then the relationship suffers. So for prayers today, let’s just ask God to help us be good stewards over the hours he gives us, for Him to help us use our time wisely, and for us to always have the wisdom and strength to make time for God no matter how busy of a day we’re having. If you prayed that prayer, know that I prayed it in agreement with you as your brother in Christ.
Whoever you are out there reading this, God loves you and He’s with you this very moment. He longs for a deeper relationship with you. I love you guys, and I’ll see you again on Thursday!