Focal passage: 1 John 5:1-5, 11-13, 18-21
It’s tempting to live the Christian life in abstraction – big, overwhelming ideas with little concrete follow-through. I remember sitting in a youth leadership meeting after church as a freshman. My youth pastor had asked a boy and girl from each grade to help plan and organize the upcoming year’s events, discipling us in the nitty-gritty details of ministry one very organized binder at a time.
One boy spoke up. “Chuck (our youth pastor),” he said, “how do we go deeper? We want the deep stuff.” Most of us around the table looked up and a few of us nodded big nods of agreement. Chuck took a breath and – I’ll never forget it – said something like, “The deep stuff? You don’t need the deep stuff. Obey what you already know. Love one another. Start there. That’s the deep stuff.” It quieted us, and nearly 17 years later, I’m still being discipled by that gentle rebuke.
The end of 1 John is packed with big ideas and can be a bit overwhelming at first. Yet, as John closes this letter, written so that his beloved “little children” would “know” and be secure in their faith in Jesus, he keeps it simple. How do we know we’ve been born of God (saved)? We believe Jesus, the Savior, saves. How do we know we love the Father? We love whoever has been saved by Him. How do we know we love the children of God? We love God and keep His commandments. We think differently. Believe differently. Hope differently. Love differently. Do differently. We trust that what God says and what He means: Jesus is the Messiah who came to save us exactly how we needed to be saved – no extra required for salvation. We know we will live forever with God because God’s Word says so. We know we are different because we have changed. We are not of this world; we are are of the Spirit! We are not in the dark; we love one another! We do not lie; we practice the truth!