2 John 5-6 – 5 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. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
How complicated is Christianity? If you ask some people about the Scriptures or about going deep with God, you would think that our faith is such a great and abiding mystery that only the experts could understand it. Some would make it appear that the Bible is such a difficult thing to handle that, without a special type of gifting that elevates you beyond the reach of the average Christian, you will never get it.
Can I suggest to you that such has never been the intent of God. The Lord has never tried to make the faith inaccessible to any who are genuinely his. God wants you to be able to read the Bible, understand the Bible, and obey the Bible. And, if this is God’s will, it is clear that, though the Bible has some complicated parts, it is most certainly not inaccessible to the average Christian who is willing to give it a fair reading and obey its commands.
Take the text above. John is writing a letter to a church full of people he knows and cares about It is the second-shortest letter in the New Testament. John has little to say, but he wants to say it clearly. And what profound mysteries will the apostle open to the local church?
Look at the two verses above and ask yourself what they mean. Are they hard? No, they are not. There are two commands, two sides of the same coin. John calls the local church to love one another and to do so by obeying the commands of God.
Loving one another is nothing new to biblical teaching. The latter six of the Ten Commandments are about loving others. Honestly, the interpretation of the Sabbath command in Deuteronomy also places that command’s purpose in love for one’s household. So much of the civil law of the Old Testament is about loving others and treating them with fairness and kindness. And, of course, we know that Jesus and the apostles regularly called his followers to love one another.
Of course, we must separate the command to love from the sappy, anything goes, never judge, false foolishness of our modern society. Loving another person is to be committed to do them good. Thus, loving is not mere emotion. Loving is carrying out the commitment to another’s good.
How, then, do we love? We love by obeying God’s commands as verse 6 above tells us. When we love other people, we do what the word of God commands us to do. Thus, we treat people with kindness and charity. We correct our friends who are going astray. We pray for those who are hurting. We weep with those who weep. We share the gospel with the lost. We love by doing the very things that God repeatedly tells us to do.
Nothing about the commands above is hard to understand. I’ll grant you, they are hard to do. It is hard to love when our natures are to be selfish. It is hard to obey when battling down the flesh. But, make no mistake, this is not hard to grasp. The word of God is clear and simple.
Friends, so often, Christianity is summed up with the call to love God with all you’ve got and love your neighbor as yourself (cf. Matthew 22:37-40). If you grasp the truth of the gospel and the call to love God and others, you’ll pretty much have it figured out.
Don’t miss the gospel here. The Bible teaches that we are sinners who need their sin to be forgiven. We cannot do enough good, not even enough loving of others, to earn forgiveness. Instead, we must throw ourselves on the mercy of the court by receiving the gift of forgiveness in Christ. Jesus God who came to earth, lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death, and rose from the grave. If we trust in Jesus and turn from our sin and self-determination, we will be saved. As Jesus and his followers have said from the beginning, we must repent and believe to be saved.
But, once you’ve got the gospel, the rest must not be thought of as so hard as to turn any Christian away from Scripture. Love God. Love others. Obey the commands of God. Yes, there will be a few categories that require some thinking: election, end times, the problem of evil, painful sin issues, etc. However, for the most part, we must understand that God gave us a faith that is able to be received by a child and understood by non-scholars. Be confident, then, that God’s word is accessible to all of God’s children. And, when all else is hard, fall back on loving God, loving others, and obeying God’s commands for God’s glory.