Scripture: 1 John 5:16-21
Observation: John’s final words in his first letter urge all of God’s children not to sin, encouraging them to remember that when they’ve put their faith in Jesus, nothing can touch them. He finishes by asking them to stay away from anything that could take the place of their relationship with God.
Application: On a Sunday night, there’s one place you’re almost guaranteed to find me: my kitchen. After a crazy long weekend of work, I normally get home around 4 p.m. on Sunday, change into my cozies (aka yoga pants that I’ve had since 2008 and are so worn out that they’re socially unacceptable to wear anywhere but my house – you know you have a pair like them too, ladies!), open my fridge, put on my favorite Pandora station, and start cooking. I begin sautéing and roasting and boiling and baking, and if we’re honest, I normally set off our smoke alarm at least once. (Insert the monkey covering his eyes emoji here… I never said I was a good cook.)
Despite my best planning, I inevitably discover that I forgot some ingredient I needed to make for that week’s recipes. And since I have my house-only yoga pants on, I can’t just run out to the grocery store to get something. (That would require putting on real clothes and seeing people, which are two big no-no’s on my Sunday nights.) So, I’m left to figure out what I can substitute.
After a few years of cooking, I’ve gotten pretty good at learning what ingredients I can substitute for other ingredients, which ones I can just leave out altogether, and which ones are imperative for a recipe’s success. (Speaking from experience, ¼ cup of fresh parsley is really, really not the same as ¼ cup of dried parsley. You’re welcome for that pro tip.)
Honestly, I’m thankful for substitutes in cooking – they allow me to skip the extra grocery store run and finish my recipe. But truthfully, most substitutes never taste as good as the real thing.
Have you ever tried to use substitutes in your own life? What about in your relationship with God?
When I read John’s final words in this first letter, I’m reminded that there is no substitute for a relationship with the one true God.
“And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.” (verse 20)
He is the true God – there is no substitute. In him alone, we find peace, joy, and eternal life.
“Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your heart.” (verse 21)
Today, ask yourself if you’re looking anywhere other than the one, true God to satisfy you. What else in your life are you hoping will bring your satisfaction? Is it a relationship? A degree? A skill you have? An addiction to drugs or alcohol or affirmation or productivity? A job? A new car or house? Lay all of those distractions at the feet of Jesus today and recognize that they are simply substitutes for what will truly satisfy you – a real relationship with God.
Prayer: God, I praise you for sending your Son to give us eternal life and the peace and joy that come from a real relationship with you. Today, I pray that I will strip away anything in my life that acts as a substitute for a real relationship with you. Amen.
- How do you guard yourself from ensuring that nothing takes the place of God in your life?
- Is there anyone or anything in your life that is currently acting as a substitute for a real relationship with the one, true God?