1 John 2:3-6
3 Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. 4 Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; 5 but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: 6 whoever says, “I abide in him,” ought to walk just as he walked.
Twice in this passage, John speaks of ways we can be sure – that we know him and that we are in him. Knowing Jesus transforms our desires to his will. Abiding in Jesus is reflected in the way we take on the character of Christ, and the love of God reaches perfection in us.
- What do you find challenging about this passage?
- What is it about the character of Christ that you want to see reflected in your life and relationships?
- How is Jesus’ command to “love one another” made manifest in your life?
Gracious God, these words are straightforward, yet we know ourselves well enough to know that we fall short of obeying your commands and living in the world as you did and would. Thank you for your mercies new every morning. Help us to search our hearts and confess to you the ways that our lives do not reflect our commitment to you, that you might transform us for your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
1 John 2:7-11
7 Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new commandment that is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9 Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. 10 Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.
These are important words for us today. As John says, the command to love one another was not new when he wrote it here, 100 years after Jesus said it, nor is it new for us today. The brightness of the light that we shine in the world is in direct correlation to the love that we have for others. There is no room for pride or judgment as we interact with our brothers and sisters who profess faith in Christ.
- What emotions does this passage stir in you?
- Who comes to mind as you think of brothers and sisters in the faith that you are resistant to love?
- What do you need to release in order to love them as Christ loves you?
Gracious God, these are hard words! Our pride and fear complicate our response to your command love your children. Forgive us for bickering and drawing lines that don’t reflect your sacrificial love for us. Transform us and conform us to the image of Christ that we might reflect your heart in the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
12 I am writing to you, little children,
because your sins are forgiven on account of his name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young people,
because you have conquered the evil one.
14 I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young people,
because you are strong
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.
John breaks into poetry, reminding the readers of what God has done in their lives and why they are important enough to be given these words. We are invited to remember who we are – forgiven in Christ, in relationship with God, overcomers of the evil one, strong, rich in God’s word. When we root our identity in Christ and believe who he says we are, we can live in the world choosing to act out of love, not fear.
- How does remembering who you are impact how you go into the world?
- Are there people who seem to say things that contradict who God says you are?
- What does it look like for you to see your brothers and sisters as bearers of this same identity?
Gracious God, we need to be reminded who we are and the identity that we share as believers. Help us to be rooted in the truth about ourselves and to treat others with acknowledgement that they also share the identity that you have given us. Help us to use what you have given us for your glory and for the flourishing of other believers and our communities. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
1 John 2:15-17
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; 16 for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.
John’s focus shifts from our identity in God and its reflection in our love for other believers to how we live in the world. These words of guidance are not given in a vacuum but in the context of us living as God’s beloved, dependent on His provision, and walking as Jesus walked in the world. When we live knowing who we are in Christ, the world’s invitations fade in the light of living into what God has created us to be.
- When have you seen something you value pass away? How did you grieve? What did you learn?
- What are you experiencing now that comes from the Father?
- How does your life reflect the eternal value of following God?
Gracious God, there are so many distractions that pull us away from you and who you have created us to be. We love the world in which you have put us and yet we ask that you guard our hearts and tether them to you that we might live for you in the midst of our contexts, grateful for what you have given us, but loving you more. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
1 John 2:18-20
18 Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and all of you have knowledge.
Throughout Christian history, different influencers have warned us that it is the last hour, the end of the world as we know it. But when we focus on that, we miss the present hour in which God has put us, where we are called to be in tune with the Holy One, growing in our understanding of Him, and faithful to what He has called us to do.
- As you think of those who are living in opposition to Christ, what emotions are stirred in you?
- How do those emotions align with your confidence in God and His work in the world?
- What is God calling you to do and be in the present?
Gracious God, this world, full of division and hatred and opposition, does not feel tenuous for much longer if we are looking with our human eyes. But there is hope in You, Creator and Sustainer of all. Help us to focus on what you have called us to do in the present, staying close enough to hear your voice over the distractions that seek to draw us away. In Jesus’ name, Amen.