ChristianGovernance Report – December 17, 2010
God’s law in brief
First John is full of treasure, even though it is a very short letter. Among other things, it gives us additional material in response to those non-Christians who claim to be advancing an agenda of love and those who tell Christians that we are forbidden from judging. Both of these issues loom large today in the realm of politics or civil governance.
In verse 3, John says that Grace mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us.
That sounds wonderful. Just about everybody today is urgently seeking grace, mercy and peace. World peace is the desire of many regardless of worldview or religious allegiance. And politicians and courts are expected to give more priority to grace and mercy than to justice by today’s humanists.
But what is meant by grace, mercy and peace? Who gets to define it? Verse 3 continues, “in truth and love.” So truth and love have to define genuine grace, mercy and peace. The correct understanding of these attractive words comes from God through the pages of Scripture, not from arbitrary human sensibilities.
But what about love? Aren’t there a million definitions of love? Who defines love?
John seems to anticipate that response. He probably faced the same situation at the time of his writing. He then proceeds to define love. In verses 5-6 we read, “And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”
Love is defined as obedience to God’s commands. Love is obedience. Jesus said this, as recorded in the Gospels. First John is full of repeated declarations of this truth. For example, First John 5:2-3 reads: “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”
Truth and obedience are the foundation for love, grace, mercy and peace. And because of this, there is the necessity to judge between right and wrong and between truth and error if we want to distinguish between genuine love, grace, mercy and peace and imposters. The imposters can be very destructive if we foster them. But the genuine articles produce a rich and beautiful harvest – in individual lives, in families, in the Church and in the wider community.
Remember what Paul says to Timothy in I Timothy 2:1-4: “I urge, then, … prayers … be made … for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”