The Commandment of God
Posted under The Rectory Bulletin
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. (1 John 3:21-24)
It is not uncommon to find the view that Christianity is all about behaviour, or acting in a ‘Christian’ manner. In other words, some reduce the faith to a set of morals which - it just so happens - reflect the morals of polite society.
That is to miss the point. In this passage John gives us the commandment of God: to “believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another”. At the heart of the faith is, well, faith. It is a belief in Jesus, which is something Jesus himself stressed:“This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:29). It is this commitment and obedience to Christ which results in everything else, not least loving other Christians.
This is why we can have confidence that “whatever we ask we receive from him”. It is not because God is some sort of transcendental Santa, but because if we keep his commandments then inevitably our desires will align with his will. This is product of, John assures us, not just our effort but more fundamentally the very Spirit of God dwelling - or abiding - in us. God being present to us at the very deepest level.
All of this is to say that the Christian has a very deeply entwined relationship with God. That is the great hope of the faith. Not simply some moral code.