Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:1-3
When I first became a believer, I was initially elated. I had found what felt like a grand key to a life that I hadn’t been able to unlock before, an answer to my million questions. As this feeling faded into everyday life, I found myself frustrated- after some time, this whole Christianity thing was starting to feel like living life inside a box.
The box felt like a whole lot of rules to me. Rules about drinking, dating, lying, and all of the other things that it seemed like the Bible was telling me I shouldn’t do anymore.
One day I sat with my mentor and told her how frustrated I was with this. She leaned back in her chair and rolled her eyes at me.
“Everything you need is in the box. Jesus wouldn’t put you somewhere that you aren’t provided for.” She paused, then continued, “But if you don’t want to be there, nobody’s forcing you to stay. Be a Christian because you want to, not because you feel like you should.”
I think that every believer hits this point of faith at some point in their life, when we discover that what we want to do and what we know we should do are two different things. John addresses that in these verses.
"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments," he tells us, "and his commandments are not burdensome."
If his commandments are not burdensome, then something is wrong when I feel burdened by them. It shouldn’t be a burden for me to follow the commandments of the God I love and trust- it should be a delight, a joy even.
I think that my mentality of “life in a box” Christianity is not uncommon. It was so tempting for me to picture a cardboard box, and believe that being a Christian meant I had to crawl inside it, then sit there and not move. I believed that was the only way I could keep myself out of trouble, to be still and cramped by God’s commandments.
Here’s what’s amazing, though: I think that once we do that, when we give in and say, okay, fine Jesus, I’ll get in the box, even though it looks way too small, we discover that it does actually have everything we need. And it’s as if the box grows around us, getting larger in accordance with our faith.
Soon, the box doesn’t feel like a box at all, because we can’t see walls surrounding us, even if they are there. We see the delights that God has for us right in front of our faces, we see a world of joy and opportunity where we once saw looming gates keeping us inside.
I pray today that we would have courage to follow the will of God, even when it feels new or uncomfortable. Would we discover that what God has for us is so much bigger than anything we could put into a box.