Lets imagine for a moment that you are a world-class athlete (this stretches my imagination almost to overload mode.) Now lets imagine that you have a chance to represent the United States in a particular event at the Olympics; what kinds of commitments would you need to make to prepare yourself to compete on a world wide stage?
You would probably need to find sponsers who would provide you the money you need to quit your job so that you can work out enough to be prepared. You would need to commit to working out several hours every day. You would need to commit to eating properly. If it was a team sport that you were competing in you would need to commit to practices. You would have to commit to making the trip to where ever the Olympics are being held that year. And these are probably just few of the commitments that you would need to reach your potential as a world-class athlete.
Now, lets say your desire is to be a world-class Christian. What kind of commitment would it take to reach this goal? Surprisingly, the apostle John says that it only takes two commitments to be the Christian that Jesus wants you to be. These two commitments are found in 2 John 4-5, "I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. And now I ask you, dear lady----not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning----that we love one another."
Did you notice the two commandments? The two commandments are to walk in the truth, and to love one another. The fact that they are commandments mean that they are not optional to Christians....the Father has commanded us. If we love him after all that he has done to save us from our sins we can never consider his commands optional....they are just the way that we show our love to him.
Lets consider these two commands, one at a time.
The first command that John mentions is walking in the truth. I think a lot of Christians think that walking in the truth means knowing the truth, but I think it means much more than that. I think it means taking what we know of the truth and applying it consistently to our lives.
Imagine, for instance, a really good pole vaulter who decides that the way to get ready for competition is to read everything that he can about pole vaulting; memorizing international pole vaulting rules; studying the pros and cons of different kinds of poles. He knows everything there is to know about pole vaulting, except how to actually pole vault. How well do you think he will do in competition?
A lot of Christians read their Bibles every day. They memorize verses that speak to them. They even study the Bible to learn the finer points of theology. But they never practice what they read. Anger gets the better of them in traffic. They lie to their spouses. They indulge lustful thoughts. They don't engage in true fellowship with other Christians. They never speak of Christ to their non-Christian neighbors. They know what Christianity is intellectually but they don't practice their Christianity in their lives.
Walking in the truth means not just knowing what the Bible says, but obeying what the Bible says.
When was the last time you read your Bible and thought of a practical way to apply what you had just read to your job? Your marriage? Your family? Walking in the truth means that the Bible is changing your life to be more like Jesus' life.
The second commandment is to love one another. I think a lot of Christians have trouble with this because they think that loving one another has to do with feelings. They think that they should feel affection, and liking for every other Christian. I do not think that this is what love is. I think that love may include feelings of affection and liking for others, but at its root, love is a commitment to seek another's welfare even if it requires sacrifice on my part.
It may shock you, but I do not feel warm and fuzzy about every Christian I know. It would shock me if you do have warm fuzzy feelings for every Christian you know.
The truth is that I do not have much control over how I feel about people, but I have a great deal of control over how I treat people; especially with God's help. I may not like a fellow Christian because they rub me the wrong way sometimes, but that should stop me from serving them.
And lets not forget that sometimes loving someone means confronting them in love. I would argue that a love that won't confront someone in sin is really not love at all.
Imagine that I saw a brother driving down a road that had a bridge washed out. I see that he is headed for disaster and if I do nothing he might get hurt. If I say to myself, "Well, he'll probably slow down in time. Its really none of my business anyway." Doesn't that attitude demonstrate that I really don't love my brother? But if I say, "I am going to stop my brother from rushing headlong into disaster no matter what it takes." Isn't my confrontation a sign that I really love my brother? What if my brother takes offense at me stopping him? It really doesn't change the fact that I acted in love toward my brother, does it?
Do you want to be a world class Christian in God's eyes? It will take two commitments: to walk in the truth; and to love your brothers and sisters in Christ. There are just two simple commitments to be world class Christians. Easy to understand; just not easy to put into practice.
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