1 John 2:3-6 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
Well, you can certainly tell that John was the one who recorded the Upper Room Discourse! He paid attention and remembered very well, with the help of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:12-13) The standard expressed here is so high that on reflection, everyone should realize that they have more to learn of God, further to go in obeying Him completely. This passage is at the root of the novel that started the whole What Would Jesus Do (WWJD) movement of a few years ago. That novel was written quite a while back, but I imagine it will keep getting rediscovered every few decades until Jesus returns. John was indeed the Apostle of Love, starting with his own intense awareness that Jesus loved him, to the point that his own third-person reference to himself was “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” (John 13:23 and several more) Tradition tells us that he was the was the only one of the original 12 to die a natural death, and it is said that when he was very old he would seem to be asleep, but then rouse to say, “Dear children, love one another.” He was a living illustration of the truth he proclaimed. We can give him no higher commendation than that. John was just a young boy, perhaps 16, when Jesus called him as an apostle, and probably a lot of people thought Jesus was pretty stupid to trust a young boy that much. However, he certainly validated Jesus’ choice! Perhaps one reason he succeeded so beautifully is that he didn’t have as many hardened preconceptions as some of the older disciples. He didn’t think he could do it on his own, and so he trusted and obeyed Jesus completely. As the hymn says, there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus!
Of all the people in the New Testament, short of Jesus, the one I would most like to imitate is John. (Some have said I’m more like Paul, but my wife isn’t that wild about Paul’s personality, so I’ll take a pass on that.) I too have been aware of God’s love for me from a very young age, but I haven’t been as consistent in my obedience as John was. I was five when my parents recorded that I came to my mother and proclaimed that I really loved her, but not nearly as much as I loved Jesus. If only that love had remained consistent my whole life! I fell into pride, and though I knew God really loved me, I somehow thought I deserved it, and obedience kind of left the picture as far as I was concerned. Now I do know that God’s love is certainly unconditional, but my love for God must be, and will be, demonstrated by my obedience to Him. I talk about that any time the subject of salvation by grace comes up. My service cannot earn God’s love, but the more I am aware of His love, the more and better I will serve Him. That is the lesson of John’s life, and it is how I want to live.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your infinite love! Thank You that there is always more to learn of it, more to experience. Help me be a clean, open channel for that love to pour through to others, so that they too may be brought to repentance and faith, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!