Something I may dwell on often is the way that supposed followers of Jesus seem to turn people away from Him because of how they live. I know it’s true in me. I have moments where I curse people in traffic, back-bite, get arrogant, freak out on my cats, or yell at my wife Sarah. Stuff like that doesn’t add up with the perfection of Jesus. But we’re all human.
I was reading today that “if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” I’m grateful to know that when I fail, Jesus is able to cover it and love me still. That makes me want to be less selfish, less crazy, less angry, etc.
I was also reading that Jesus is “the sacrifice that bears God‘s anger and turns it to favor”, and not just for us but for the whole world. I’m amazed to understand what this offer is, and how God’s love is poured on me only because I simply get to know Jesus. I’m also baffled by the love of God in how this message is for everyone. I know that not everyone accepts or believes it, but still, God offers it to everyone, longing for their love to be returned to Him.
“By this we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” This is where the part of being ethical comes in. Do we claim to follow Jesus and love Him, but still condemn others? Do we claim to be wild and intoxicated with His love and then go and get totally hammered with others at the bar? Granted- an occasional drink is alright, but people who claim to be followers of Jesus shouldn’t be getting wild drunk, or stoned, or whatever else. But more so, do we have a love for people that is evident? Do we have a patience? Do we always respond in anger or with understanding, even to people we disagree with? Are we people that fight for the justice of the oppressed and poor? Are we materialistic, and consumeristic? This is what “the world” mentioned above, whom Jesus sacrificed Himself for, is waiting to see.
“Whoever says ‘I know Him’ but does not keep His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in Him.” Let’s just think for a moment about America. How many people do you know who claim “I know Jesus” and yet don’t live like it? That’s a chilling thought. John is saying here that people like that are liars with no truth in them. I often wonder what would happen if some oppressive regime took over America, and were demanding that those who claim to follow Jesus either deny it or be executed. This is happening in other parts of the world, and there is a small minority of people who really claim to follow Jesus, and within these churches are amazing, sacrificial, giving, generous, loving, patient people. People who aren’t for real just reject it. In America we have another scene altogether. We have a large amount of people who call themselves followers of Jesus for many reasons, but so many probably really don’t believe it or live like it. Do I believe it and live like it? Would I be willing to lay down my life for it? Those are questions worth asking.
So may we walk as Jesus walked. Even though it’s tough. Even when people who claim to follow Him don’t live like Him. Even when leaders in churches seem to be hypocritical. Even when parents shove religious hypocrisy on us. May we seek to be like Jesus and forget everything else.