1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. 4 Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; 5 but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: 6 whoever says, “I abide in him,” ought to walk just as he walked. 7 Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new commandment that is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9 Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. 10 Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.
Sometimes it feels like following the Christian faith has been reduced to the same level as believing in Father Christmas – that no matter how bad you have been, Father Christmas will still pat you on the head and bring you presents. This passage of Scripture is a timely reminder that Christian faith is not simply a matter of “believing in Jesus”. Those who follow Jesus are also bound to obedient living: “Whoever says, ‘I have come to know him,’ but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist”
Our lives as followers of Jesus are informed by the teachings of Jesus – to both believe and do that which is loving. Belief without action is hollow, and so becomes false faith. The claim to be a “believer in Jesus” is tested by the actions that follow this claim. A person cannot claim the love of Jesus and exhibit nastiness and spite. A person cannot claim the forgiveness of Jesus for themselves while refusing to show the same forgiveness for another person.
Those who claim to be Jesus-followers shall be tested by the love and joy they bring to their community.
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 276.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.