Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? – 1 John 5:1-5
In these verses John lays out the chain of implications and consequences of our relationship with God, our love for God, and therefore our love for one another. If we love God we will love one another. But anyone who has sought to live this out knows that things get in the way. The devil, the world, and even our own flesh distract us and cause us to stumble in living out our relationships of love for God and for one another.
As theEnduring Word Commentary puts it,
In this remarkable letter, John tells us the truth about relationships – and shows us how to have relationships that are real, for both now and eternity.
Real relationships require real work. Even though John says that God’s commandments are not burdensome, sometimes they do test our dedication to God. Sometimes we are tempted to give in to the darker side of our own selfish will. Sometimes we forget the remarkable love of God and think we’re doing something really great when we are loving a fellow sinner – as though we are without sin and our brother or sister in Christ needs more grace than we do.
Believing that Jesus is the Son of God opens our hearts to profound love and ever deeper faith. We recognize that being a child of God does not exempt us from trouble of every kind. We learn that loving others requires sacrifice. We also learn, however, that we do not have to go through ritualistic practices to gain God’s love or to love our neighbor; that’s the “not burdensome” part.
Real relationships with others are based on God’s grace to us and through us to others, and from God to others and through them to us. When we open our hearts to one, who like ourselves, is a sinner in need of God’s grace, we are able to build relationships that are real, rich, and eternal.
God loves the real you – from the darkest corner of your corrupt heart to the most sublimely faithful new nature created in you by the Holy Spirit. When we give up on trying to be someone we’re not before God, we open the door to being real with others and learn to be loved and to love others.