1 John 5:1-4
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of him. 2 This is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God and obey his commands. 3 For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, 4 because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. — 1 John 5:1-4
A Love that Leads to Obedience
by Elizabeth Brown
My twenty-five-year-old is on a quest. Her quest for romantic love, unconditional acceptance, and meaningful work can be a dangerous adventure, as she experiments with different lifestyles and enters into relationships that don’t promise security. However, she is compelled to take this path of self-discovery, because these fundamental questions were not fully satisfied in her younger years. She wants to know who she is, how God loves her and how others see her. As hard as it is for me to watch her take this journey, this is a time for her to discover love and recognize that God holds it out for everyone to grasp.
Bestselling author and professor of social work at the University of Houston, Brene Brown says that love is “cultivated when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.” Of course, she is speaking of human love, but can this not be applied to the love of God for His creation? In God’s most vulnerable self, He came down in the form of Jesus Christ, allowing Himself to be deeply seen and known. In His most powerful self, He rose from the dead and gave us freedom from our self-destructive nature. He offers us His trust, respect, kindness, and affection, as He seeks a relationship with each child He has created.
Beyond this definition of love, how do we show trust, respect, kindness and affection to our God and to others? According to the apostle John, it is in our actions—specifically in our adherence to God’s commandments. In His love for us and His desire for us to love one another, God gave us “best practices” for living. We honor Him with our obedience because we want to please our wise, benevolent Father. We give up our willfulness for the sake of peace with others and even ourselves. John says faithful obedience to God’s loving commands is not burdensome, for it leads to a full life.
I wonder if obedience ever becomes natural. Maybe it is when we have plumbed the depths of love and find it to be the very source of our actions. We discover our love for God and our love for other people by following the ways God has set forth for us. Our obedience is an evidentiary overflow of our love for all of His creation.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.