Before the leaves start turning, I check to make sure my furnace is going to work. First, I need to know if the pilot light is still burning. Because I can’t see it or hear it, I’d need to take the furnace apart to look. But an easier way is to turn up the thermostat and wait a few minutes. If warm air comes out of my heating vents, then I know that my pilot light is lit. I can tell the condition of the pilot light, by the evidence of the warm air.
In the same way,
We know that we have come to know him [Jesus] if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:3-4)
Observe carefully, John does NOT say if you obey, then Jesus will accept you. It says that you can be sure you “know” Jesus by the evidence of how you tend to obey His commands. If you are as naturally rebellious as I am, you are probably thinking, “What’s all this about obedience?” It goes back to what the word “know” means.
A friend of mine met a guy who was also canoeing along the shore of Maine, near where he lives. No big deal, just two guys who happened on each other and were enjoying the same sport. That is, until my friend found out he was chatting with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Knowing who he was, changed my friend’s behavior. If the judge had asked him to do something he would have been more naturally inclined to obey, out of respect. When you “know” that Jesus is God – Almighty God- and that He has told us some things we really ought to do, it will change how you act. It just will. That’s part of what it means to “know.”
But “knowing” is also a word that means “having an intimate relationship.” When you enjoy a rich, fulfilling relationship with someone, and that person wants you to do something, you tend to want to do it, right? Suppose your favorite uncle, the one who really took an interest in you from way back when you were a kid, wants you to take your shoes off in his house… See what I mean?
That’s what John means. If you have any doubt about whether you really have come to know Jesus, you could spend a lot of time analyzing all your thoughts and motives and so on. Or, you could check to see if you tend to want to do what Jesus told us to do. Simple.
There’s more to it, but we’ll get to that next time.