1 John 2:1-11
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
When I was a kid, NBC ran a bunch of infomercials called “The More You Know.” One featured Matthew Perry who played the character of Chandler on the tv show Friends. He asks all those watching to think of the things they want most in the world. In the few seconds the audience has to think, Matthew Perry writes down what he says the audience needs to do if they want to get what they want most. Only three words: Stay in school. Stay in school and you’ll get what you want is the message. The more you know, the more you’ll be prepared to get what you want out of life and achieve your goals.
For John, if we truly want to get the most out of life, it isn’t about what we know or how much we know but who we know. Jesus is the only One in whom our true life’s purpose can be found. In him, our true self is revealed. The more we know Jesus, the more fulfilled we will be. Accumulating knowledge cannot save us from sin. Accumulating knowledge is not the recipe for a meaningful life although it can be helpful. In many cases, what we know is trivial because of how we were taught. We were taught to memorize facts and not always the why or the how behind the facts. My education in school didn’t always have hands-on and practical components to help me deepen my knowledge of the subject matter.
John says, “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands” (v.3). We can’t know God if we don’t obey God. Our knowledge of God comes when we follow him. We can’t say we know God and then refuse to do what he tells us. Jesus didn’t just tell us what to do either. He showed us himself by the way he lived and died. It isn’t enough for us to have the knowledge of faith and believe God exists. “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:14-17). Is there a disconnect between what you personally believe about God and what you’re doing for him? What are you learning about God as you follow his commands? What have you done lately that has drawn you closer to God?
“Lord, it belongs not to my care
Whether I die or live;
To love and serve Thee is my share,
And this Thy grace must give.
If life be long, I will be glad,
That I may long obey;
If short, yet why should I be sad
To welcome endless day?
Christ leads me through no darker rooms
Than He went through before;
He that unto God’s kingdom comes
Must enter by this door.
Come Lord, when grace hath made me meet
Thy blessed face to see;
For if Thy work on earth be sweet
What will thy glory be!
Then I shall end my sad complaints
And weary sinful days,
And join with the triumphant saints
That sing my Savior’s praise.
My knowledge of that life is small,
The eye of faith is dim;
But ‘tis enough that Christ knows all,
And I shall be with Him.”
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.