- John 3
We act upon the things we are convinced of. Right or wrong, once we have convinced ourselves something is the right thing to do, that’s what we do! Why is the right thing to do? Because that’s what we think will make us happy.
If you don’t think this is true, take a minute to analyze the last time you willfully did something you knew was wrong. Why did you do it? I’ll bet that when you boil that action down, or that thought, or that attitude, at the core of the motivation behind it will be your happiness.
I can remember an example of this from when I was in 6th grade. There were a couple of popular boys that I wanted to be my friends. We had gone on a field trip to our teacher’s farm. While we were walking through the woods at his farm, I stepped into a mud bog and lost my shoe. I could see the two boys in front of me. So, in an attempt to impress them, and win their favor, I swore. I knew it was wrong. I had been raised not to say words like that. But, at that moment, I had convinced myself that the right thing to do in order to insure my happiness and get those boys to like me, was to disobey God, disobey my parents, and act like them by swaring!
This may seem like a severe example, and it probably is. But, as I have been meditating on this concept, I see in myself, such a propensity to this. To redefine what is right and wrong based on my own happiness, comfort, security, etc. And that my friends is the very definition of idolatry!
When Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, trying to wrap his head around the utter disparity he saw in Jesus’ life and teaching, and that of his peers, Jesus answer to him was “You must be born again!” (John 3:3) You need a completely new outlook! Everything you have been operating by needs to change!
Jesus continued in John 3:19 to say, “God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.” We prefer our own definition of what is right. That was certainly the case for those religious leaders, and Jesus confronted them on it!
John 3:20-21 “All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” When someone confronts you about something, how do you respond? I know I am certainly not always that quick to just embrace it. I was reminded of this just yesterday, as we read through the program evaluation from one of our students who just finished. I found myself justifying and defending myself over the words this person had written about us and the program. But, Jesus tells us that “those who do what is right, come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” They come to the light so their actions can be exposed, and they can be instructed and directed.
As John wraps up chapter 3 of his gospel, he says, “The Father loves His Son and has put everything into his hands. And anyone who BELIEVES in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t OBEY the son will never experience eternal life…” John links belief to obedience! To believe God’s son and have eternal life means that we obey Him. In contrast to the religious leaders who defined their own righteousness (showing they don’t really believe), Jesus tell us to obey what He defines as righteous, and in so doing it will prove to those who witness our lives that we belong to God. (John 3:21)
- I can so easily redefine what is “right” for me based on my desire for happiness, comfort or security. God’s definition never changes.
- My happiness, comfort or security is not the most important motivation for what I do. If it is, then it is an idol that needs to be dealt with.
- Belief and obedience go together. I can’t say I believe in God’s Word and His salvation without obeying what He says! Well, actually I can “say” I believe, but my actions is what shows what I really believe.