“And this is his commandment, that we should believe…” (1 John 3:23)

You are the Lord, which in part means that you are the one who makes the commands.  We obey, at our best.  And we eventually learn that it is to everyone’s benefit if we do.  Your commandments are neither arbitrary nor capricious; they are a means of living right.  I always end up in the ditch when I disobey them.

I get all of that.  However, here you are commanding us not to do something, but to believe in Jesus Christ.  How can you order someone to believe?  How can I make myself believe as an act of obedience to your command?

The interesting part of these questions is that they reveal my assumption that I am held captive by my doubts.  But you don’t think that.  You believe I could believe if I wanted to.  Fascinating.

Even more significantly, here you are commanding that I believe in more than a doctrine or the relative benefits of your law.  You command me to believe in you, as you are revealed in Christ.  If I fail at this command, then my obedience with everything else you ordered doesn’t really make me right, or righteous.  It just reduces you to a few pointers for staying out of the ditch.

There is no righteousness without Jesus Christ.  Frankly, it’s usually in the ditch where we find each other.


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