Duration: 365 days
MEREST CHRISTIANITY: SIMPLE TO GRASP BUT HARD TO PUT IN PRACTICE (1 JOHN 3:1)
Shortly after World War II, the brilliant Christian thinker C. S. Lewis communicated his beliefs about Christianity in a series of British radio broadcasts that were then edited into the book Mere Christianity. He covered the basics, the bare essentials, of Christian belief. Yet even that slim book would have seemed overly long and complex to the apostle John, author of this letter. John uses the simplest language of any New Testament writer—his three letters together employ barely 300 different Greek words—to express the gospel in its most distilled form.
Characteristically, John defines words in their relationship to opposites: light versus darkness, truth versus falsehood, life versus death. In verse 11, he begins with a command to “love one another.” Then he goes on to illustrate the life of hate before coming back to define love. Many of 1 John’s themes are developed in this “circular” method.
HEART OF THE GOSPEL
Chapter 3 begins with wonder, astonishment even, that God has lavished his love on us. We are his children! But then John asks the obvious question: If we are God’s children, why don’t we act like it? Don’t children of good parents naturally want to emulate their parents?
To John, faith should make itself obvious in very down-to-earth ways: “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (verse 17). His words are as piercingly direct as the words of the Sermon on the Mount. A person who loves God should act like it. It’s that simple.
For John, the heart of the gospel really does boil down to Jesus’ command: “Love one another” (John 13:34). Those three words express the heart of God.
If you could condense the code you live by into one sentence, what would it be?
Taken from NIV Student Bible©2017 HarperCollins Christian Publishing