Wednesday, June 17
Apostles' Creed Focus
“and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord”
“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” - 1 John 5:3
A good friend of mine was serving as a youth pastor and encouraging his students to commit to showing up consistently for their meetings and events. He was surprised when a parent called to complain that her student was made to feel guilty because she couldn’t attend youth group often due to her extracurricular activities. She expressed to my friend that attendance did not equal commitment. We discussed her claim. What would a soccer coach think about a team member’s commitment who showed up sporadically? How would a spouse feel if their partner rarely came to the table for meals?
Eventually we determined that when we really are committed to something, we show up to participate. When it comes to our relationship with Jesus, we don’t just check the attendance boxes of prayer, Bible reading, or church. But because of our love relationship with the Savior who died to restore our relationship with our Creator, our choices are affected. If we really believe that Jesus is the Truth, we would joyfully submit to that truth and the life He tells us to live.
We find the connection between belief and behavior resounding in Scripture, and the apostle John penned a letter in the latter years of his life reminding believers that love evidences itself in action. He said in 1 John 5:3 that to love God is to keep His commandments. The order of faith and works is pivotal to our Christian walk. The Pharisees were legalists who focussed on obedience to the letter of the law. We too can find ourselves like them when we make our outward actions about our own righteousness. Instead, we center our lives on loving God. Out of the relationship of true, loving commitment to Christ overflows a desire to obey His commands. When this is our posture, His commands don’t seem burdensome because we know they are rooted in His love for us.
Take a moment to think about your spiritual attendance when it comes to some of God’s commands concerning prayer, Bible study, and gathering to worship with other believers. Even though we cannot gather for worship services, we can still initiate connection with our spiritual community. We don’t want to walk in shame for where our lack of attendance reveals a flimsy commitment. Yet when we evaluate our obedience to God’s commands, it can help us see where we might be off course and need to ask God to reignite our love and devotion for Christ. Take some time today to reflect on your beliefs about Christ and the impact they have on your day to day choices. How is the Lord calling you into deeper love for Jesus that evidences itself in real life?
Jesus, You are my first love. Help me not to lose the passion and commitment I had when I first realized that You alone are the way, the truth, and the life. Awaken in me the love for You that stirs joyful obedience to Your commands. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Verses for Further Reflection
Matthew 10:34-39; John 14:15, 21-24; John 15:10-15
Take this devotional a step further and share it with the children or students that you are intentionally discipling each week.
Do you LOVE wearing your seatbelt in the car? Probably not. It can feel tight or annoying when you want to move or reach for something. But why do parents make us wear seat belts? Why is there a law about wearing seat belts? This rule exists to keep us safe and parents make us follow this rule because they love us and don’t want anything bad to happen to us.
God’s “rules” can feel tight or annoying sometimes; but He gave them to us because He loves us and wants to keep us safe. So, the next time you “just don’t want to” do what God has asked you to do, take a minute and think about why God gave us that rule? Why did your parent make that rule? Why did your teacher make that rule? It’s probably because they care about you and want you to be safe - not to annoy you or hold you down. And when you follow their rules it is proof to them and others that you love and care about them, too. It’s just like 1 John 5:3 says: “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”