1 John 2: 1-6
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. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this, we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
I’ve been learning a lot about where the law, or the rules, fit in with the Gospel (main message of Christianity). In my own words: God made us good and beautiful. We actively or passively screwed up and went against God. This got in the way of our relationship with God. God sent his son to teach us about him, to live a perfect life, and ultimately to take our mess-ups upon himself. By dying, and raising again, those mess-ups were gone forever and we were able reconnect with God. If we put Jesus in control of our lives, God looks on his righteousness and accepts us as holy and blameless.
There’s a lot of grace in there. So what about the rules? Where do the thou shalt nots fit in? According to this passage, following God’s commandments helps us to know him better. I think this happens a few ways:
1. As we try to live out of God’s design we learn about how holy God is. We realize how hard it is to follow his commands and understand that his perfect image is a long ways from what we typically say and do.
2. As we apply biblical principles to our lives, we reap the benefits. God knows this world, he knows our hearts, he knows what is best for us. When we choose to follow his word we can begin to see that he made those rules because he wanted what’s best for us. We understand God’s father heart towards us. He is loving and gracious, yet takes measures to protect us from harm, and disciplines us for our own good sometimes.
3. Perhaps the one that resonates with me the most: as we allow God to live through us (by the power of the Holy Spirit) we get to know God better. When we’re “walking as he walks” we see him in ourselves. It’s an experiential way of knowing God. For Spanish speakers a “conocer” instead of a “saber.” I’ve seen this in my own life. Being married means walking in the spirit. That may sound a little abstract and new agey but it simply means this: when there’s something I should be doing that I don’t feel like doing, I ask the Spirit to take control and to help me to do said right thing, then I try to do it. Some cool things happen when I do that. I’ve seen arguments between Philip and I just stop. One time we were raising our voices at each other one minute, and the next (after I decided to walk in the spirit and asked him a question) he cried in front of me for the first time. He became completely vulnerable with me (something that’s hard for a gruff and tough man to do). Another time, Phil really wanted to go on a walk with me. I was really tired, but again I asked the Spirit for help, and went on the walk with him. Afterwards, Phil thanked me and told me he felt so stressed before, but after the walk he was completely at peace. I’ve seen what happens in similar scenarios when I rely on my own strength. Seeing the difference it makes helps me to understand the healing power of God’s love.
How do you get to know God more? Is this idea of “knowing” God in a personal way a new concept to you? I’d love to share more about that.