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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 John 5:1–6

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. (NRSV)

“Commandments of God: A Sampling”

Honor the sabbath.
Welcome the stranger.
Feed the hungry.
Clothe the naked.
Visit the imprisoned.
Give all your possessions to the poor.
Show hospitality
Live in community.
Wash feet.
Act justly. Love mercy.
Support orphans and widows.
Ask for forgiveness.
Forgive your oppressor.
Love your enemy.
Feed your enemy.
Take up a cross. Trust God. Follow God.

Well, I’m sorry, John. It’s hard to for me to believe you when you say God’s commandments are not burdensome. If I am being honest, I find the complete list of God’s commandments to be onerous and daunting. The Word of God, be it the teachings of Jesus or the wisdom found in the Hebrew scriptures, requires so much—it pulls us in so many directions and requires us to go down paths that are uncomfortable, worrisome, and sometimes dangerous. Burdensome? So it seems.

But then I stumbled onto the verses before today’s reading. In those verses, John stresses the importance of love. He reminds us that God is love and that love can cast out fear.

Each action required of us, each step in following God, is grounded in this core message: love. It’s not about following a recipe or checking actions off a list. It’s about acting with love, living with love.

That’s where we start. That’s the direction in which we orient ourselves. The love of God, the love of one another—it challenges and comforts. That’s where we can begin to follow the commandments of God. Love can ignite within us a hope and a courage to face it all.

And that’s what John was trying to say all along: start with love.

Well, John, it’s a start, and it’s worth a try.

O God, cast out my fear and wrap me in your love,
that I may follow your commandments not with burden,
but with delight and joy. Amen.

Written by Shawn Fiedler, Worship and Adult Education Coordinator

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