There’s nothing more important than to know that we belong to Christ. While we can trust ourselves, that’s what we tend to do. While we can trust—or demand—that governments keep us ‘safe’, that’s what we tend to do.
But in the real world—the one God makes and rules, we need an Advocate. And we need to know that we know him.
John tells us how. We keep his commandments (2:3-6), particularly the command to love one another.
God never thinks obedience to him is hard (Deuteronomy 30:11-14). And Christ says it is easy to learn from and to follow him (Matthew 11:28-30). It’s not an accomplishment. It’s the way to live.
Here’s how it works.
Loving one another is what we learn to do when we first become Christians. Jesus teaches this and says it’s the way we relate to him and to the Father (John 14:15, 21, 23; 15:10).
These verses are amazing. We already know of the Father’s love for us as sinners, but now Jesus is telling us about the love he and his Father will have for us when we love him. It’s the certainty of this love relationship that we need if we are going to walk securely.
This command is new—or fresh. It’s not just something to remember and do. Christ is alive, shining on us, bringing us to life. As we enjoy him and love one another, the hateful darkness of sin and hate is being pushed back. His command is always coming to us, and being effective!
All of this is happening because Jesus reveals God’s love to us. This love is powerful, and costly. So, we love him! We like what he says. And we respond to his love by doing what he asks.
All this has a profound effect on us. Christ may have seemed distant, but now he is near. Christ’s loving is real. And so is ours! We are living in the same way Jesus did—loving our neighbour.
John’s doesn’t say we are doing this perfectly but that God’s love has done its work in us. After what we’ve been told about confessing our sin, John would hardly be telling us we’re already perfect! But our loving is real!
When we love like this, we’re in the light and don’t fall over hidden obstacles. Hatred, or self-interest, blinds us to what is happening around us, and in us. It leads to confusion. But love—coming from Christ and being passed on by us—helps us to see clearly.
On the other hand, if we pretend to know Christ and don’t like what he says, we’re not being real. We’re believing a lie, and we’re living it as well. Falsehood has invaded our inner life. How we need this love of Christ—in us! The world becomes confused by trying to make its own truth and its own love. But through obedience to Christ, we find certainty, purpose and hope. And all this, not because we are perfect. It works because the true light is shining, changing us, and because it reaches out to our broken world.