1 John 5:1-5
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
Followers of Jesus are often confused about what our attitude toward the world should be. Some say that Christians should engage with the culture around us, following its values so we will be welcomed into positions of worldly influence and power. Others think that good Christians must flee from the world and its corruptions. Some think our attitude toward the world should be adversarial, with followers of Jesus fighting boldly against immorality and evil. Others feel that the church should seek peace with the world so Christians can quietly coexist alongside people of other religious and secular traditions. Each of these views may find some support in scripture, but it’s clear from John’s writing, in this epistle as well as in his Gospel and in Revelation, that his view has to do with “overcoming.”
This word can also be translated as being victorious or conquering. Jesus said that He had “overcome the world” (John 16:33). The seven letters in Revelation 2-3 are addressed by Jesus to those who are “victorious.” These statements don’t teach us that Christians should go to war against the world in order to destroy or dominate the culture around us. Jesus never called his followers to take up arms against unbelievers or to violently attack those who oppose the church. Instead, we are called to hold fast to our faith despite the world’s opposition and temptation. What John is expressing, in response to Jesus’ own words, is that we overcome the world by remaining faithful, obedient and loving, just as Jesus did when He chose the way of the cross. The result of overcoming in Christ may not look like victory to the world, but we set our eyes on God and his glory in place of the world and its false promises.
We overcome the world every time we resist temptation. We overcome the world when we choose to love those who don’t love us. We overcome the world when we share God’s truth instead of repeating the world’s lies. We overcome the world by inviting others to find new life in Jesus. We overcome the world as we obey God and honor the name of Jesus even when it means being criticized by others. We overcome the world when we set aside time in our busy schedules for prayer and worship. In many ways, we overcome the world through faith in Jesus.
Jesus, You overcame the world through Your death and resurrection. Thank You for being my Savior and for calling me to follow You. Help me to find strength in Your name to remain faithful, obedient and loving. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian