1 John 5:3 uses a rather curious phrase to describe God’s instructions. John says that obeying God is no big deal.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (ESV)
I’m surprised at how many Christians feel weighed down and discouraged in trying to live the Christian life. Many give up and/or never try, concluding holiness is neither possible nor realistic. Some people are resentful towards God for setting standards for elders, deacons, and teachers (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1; James 3). There are those who think it unfair that God expects husbands to lead their wives and children and for wives to submit to and respect their husbands. Some people view Scripture as an intrusion into our lives, one that places unfair and unnecessary restrictions.
That is not the perspective of the apostle John. He says that God’s commandments are no big deal. Not that he doesn’t think they are important, but rather, he doesn’t see them as an oppressive, crushing burden. Demanding, Yes; Oppressive, No. Challenging, certainly; Crushing, not in the slightest.
Our family moved to Seattle in 1990. Since most of our relatives lived in Southern California, we became well acquainted with I-5. In fact, we know every rest stop, McDonalds, and In-N-Out Burger from Seattle to Los Angeles.
In December, we drove up and down I-5 to attend our son’s graduation from Biola University. Last month, we drove I-5 again to attend our daughter’s graduation from Biola. In two weeks, I will drive I-5 one more time to help my get my daughter’s car to L.A.
Now, I could whine and complain about having to drive I-5 one more time. I could moan about the amount of time and the cost of gas. Or I enjoy the drive, the beauty of God’s creation, and the good company and conversation. Over the past 20 years, driving I-5 has been a pleasure because it meant time with family. Road trips are a chance to spend concerted time with my wife or one or more of my children. It means listening to books, talking about values, and enjoying shared experiences.
Driving I-5 is not a burden because it allows me to build and strengthen my relationship with my family. In the same way, the commandments of Scripture are not a burden because they help build and strengthen my relationship with God.