The perfect expres sion of love for God is found in Jesus' own example. And so the Elder writes, whoever claims to live in [God] must walk as Jesus did. This statement seems to raise the stakes to an impossible level. Who can live like Jesus did? All of Jesus' life demonstrated obedience to God, and that obedience was manifested above all in his death on the cross (see Jn 5:19-20; 10:15, 17-18). Again, the point is not that we must manifest perfect obedience in all that we do. Rather we are to reflect on our lives, asking whether our thoughts, words and deeds show that our primary allegiance is to the God who is light.
The point of the admonitions to be obedient, to live righteously or to follow the example of Jesus is not to get us to start doing a number of things simply for the sake of doing them. Rather such admonitions remind us that we have already charted a course for ourselves. As we walk in that course we are reminded to ask ourselves, do these actions belong in the circle of light? The key here is reflection. We are not to be made anxious, but are rather prodded to reflect on what we say and do, how we think, pray, spend our time and money, raise our children, treat our coworkers, spouses and neighbors. Our aim is to live for one master, God alone, in and with all that we do. That is walking as Jesus walked.
So can we ever be sure that we know God? Some people have deep inner peace in their relationship with God. Others seem continually plagued by confusion and doubts. In seeking peace it is wise to keep the ends and means in proper order. Those who seek God are granted a sense of God's love and acceptance of them. This is the bedrock to which they return in times of crisis, discouragement and anxiety. Those who chase desperately for feelings of assurance usually do not find what they are looking for. If we focus on God and what God has done for us, we are oriented within the circle and guided by its fixed centerpoint. If we focus on ourselves or our own feelings, even with good intentions, we drift without direction or anchor.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.