We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 1 John 2:3-6
As I stood on the edge of the platform, I froze. "Are you sure it's safe?" Even though they nodded their heads and reassured me numerous kids had gone through this high ropes course, I wasn't convinced. I had them check, re-check and then check again that everything was locked, clipped and tied in place.
All that went through my fearful mind was my carabiner malfunctioning and me falling to my inevitable death. I took a breath, lifted my leg...and then put it back down. "Are you sure it's safe?" My guide's response had something to do with not getting paid enough for this headache.
When your life is on the line, you want to have absolute certainty that everything is on the up and up. With so much riding on the outcome, it's only natural to be concerned. Our salvation is one such thing. We don't want to arrive at the pearly gates and see a no vacancy sign. We fret over whether the first time we accepted Christ stuck, so we rededicate our lives to Him again and again just for safe measure.
Our hearts sometimes wonder if we've done enough to earn our ticket. And at first glance, today's passage only adds to the pressure and tension. The way to know we are in Him is to keep His commands. If we don't, not only is the truth not in us, but we're a liar.
A passage like this gets me asking, "Are you sure I'm safe?" I don't know about you, but some days my life isn't pretty; it can be downright ugly. I speak harshly. I withhold forgiveness. I let cynicism win. I stumble and fall. If I don't check my heart in these moments, my response to the mess I created is to try harder and do more to make up for my mistakes.
Without even knowing it, I'm living under the weight of good works while losing sight of the Gospel. I'm saved (and so are you) by my faith, not my performance. God's grace is a free gift, and once we accept it, we stand in it. Nothing can separate us from His love - not our bad decisions, not our poor choices and not all the places where we fall short.
But, this doesn't mean our lives shouldn't look different and that we’re off the hook. That's cheap grace, and since it has no value, it doesn't possess the power to transform our heart and character. An encounter with Christ should lead to an expression (albeit imperfect) of love, humility, and service. The more we get to know Him, the more we will want to reflect His heart.
Keeping His commands isn't an all or nothing proposition. Instead, it's merely a focus and perspective. We keep His promises in front of us. We keep stepping out in obedience. We keep resting in His grace while learning to walk with Him. We keep putting ourselves in environments where His heart over time becomes our own.
For those of you wondering, I eventually made my way through the ropes course high in the trees. Once I knew the ropes would hold me and I had nothing to fear, I felt confident to take a step and another after that. God's grace works much the same way. Knowing His love is the same yesterday, today and forever, we can walk confidently in the direction He leads us.
Where do you need to be reminded about the security of His love?
How can you keep His commands before you today?
God, I desire for my life to speak of Your great love. I want everything I do and say to bring you glory. I know I do this imperfectly, but I am grateful that Your grace meets me in the gap. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.