When I started high school, I quickly recognized several distinct identity groups. There were the jocks of course with their Nike and Adidas, the preps with their American Eagle and Abercrombie, the skaters/punks with their black eye liner and ironic ties (a la early 2000’s Avril Lavigne). What I did not immediately recognize was assuming an external identity didn’t make you that thing. An ironic skinny neck tie did not magically give you masterful skateboard skills. Throwing on some Nikes and athletic shorts did not mean you were a star athlete, or even an athlete at all. NEWS FLASH to my 15-year-old brain: You could wear yoga pants and never actually do yoga!
In 1 John 2:1-6, the author begins by calling his flock to avoid sin. He then reminds them that Jesus is their advocate and atoning sacrifice for our sin. But, he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to identify very explicitly how a person is to know if they are in Christ. The measure? “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” The writer is less concerned that the readers believe all the right things or knows all the right answers. His primary concern is their faith practice. If we love God, we obey God’s commands. If we love God, we trust that God’s way is the best way.
The author is in no way suggesting a works righteousness. Remember, he’s already emphasized the saving work of Jesus in freeing us from our sin. However, he wants to make it clear to his readers and to us that a life in Christ bears fruit, fruit of obedience to God. What does that obedience look like? It looks like Jesus, loving and including others, forgiving those who hurt you, actively working for God’s Reign on earth, and surrendering your rights for the good of others.
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Grace and Peace.