Read 1 John 2:1-14."Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."NIV
As I was reading this, I was reminded of a conversation I had with a friend the other day. We were talking about the way we were raised, and we both were inundated with do's and don'ts in the Christian walk. Everything was centered around if you did good. And I don't mean necessarily doing good for others, just doing good. Following every commandment perfectly and following some commandments that were man-made.
The problem with this kind of upbringing is it's getting the cart before the horse. This philosophy instills a mindset that "If I do right, I'm a Christian and God will love me." First of all, God loves us all no matter who we are -- believers and unbelievers. So there is one false belief.
Secondly, the order is not 1) Do good, 2) I will be loved by God. The priority is loving God. Then out of loving Him, I desire to follow His commands.
As I was reading this passage, I could see why it might be misconstrued to mean the opposite. But then I had this thought. In those days marriages were often arranged. Therefore, commitment to a spouse would often come before the love for that spouse. They would marry out of respect for their fathers and duty to their family. They would faithfully go about the daily actions of being married until one day they realized they love that person. I think we've brought this mentality into the Christian faith and it fights against out mentality of love coming first.
The order of events is NOT 1) I want God to love me. 2) I don't want to go to hell. 3) I will follow all the "Christian" requirements and rules. 4) That will show God that I love Him.
If you take Christianity in this order, you will fail. There's no foundation for what you are doing. Eventually the reality of hell begins to fade; doubts come in because the enemy knows you are resting your faith on a house of cards. And you eventually stop following the "rules" because, why bother?
The true order of events is 1) God loves me enough to die on a cross for my sins. 2) I love Him and want to surrender my life to Him as my Lord. 3) Because I love Him so much, I want to follow His commands. I know that He has my best interests at heart and created boundaries because He loves me.
Can you see how this process will last so much longer? There's a foundation that will stand and a message of hope and love. Unfortunately, I was 30 years old before I figured this one out and truly began living a victorious and productive Christian life -- one out of love for my Father, not duty to my religion.
- Are you trapped in the wrong mindset? Have you put duty to following right before actually loving and surrendering to God?
- Compare and contrast the way I was raised (and the way many people view the Church and Christianity) with the Pharisees.
- Read how Jesus addressed this problem in Matthew 22:34-40. And read my blog post on this passage. Find other passages that support this same thought.
- How has the Church become know for what it doesn't do rather than for what it does? How do we change this?