The closing words of Chapter Three of Imitation (1,3) hold the key to the Christian life: aligning our wills to God’s will. How else can we legitimately say we love God but by keeping His commandments. This is what John is telling us as we continue to hear from him at Mass (1 Jn 4:19-5:4).
John does not subscribe to an easy-believism (this approach is nowhere to be found in Scripture). If we say we believe in God, but don’t strive to follow the Divine Will, what are we saying? We believe God exists? But if God is who He says He is, much more is required. It is not always easy, and we often fall, but the Lord, like the father of the prodigal son, anxiously awaits our return.
John then heartens us in the next verse:
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
We may at times think God’s commandments are burdensome, because our fallen nature is attracted to sin, especially pride (“I know what’s best for me!”). But the One who made us, who has our “owner’s manual,” truly knows what’s best for us. And “conquering the world” is a pretty nice reward , is it not? An overstatement for effect? No. Whether it’s conquering the world in the sense of the world, the flesh, and the devil in our own lives, or conquering the world in the sense of John Paul II, Mother Teresa, or Mother Angelica, faith, even if the size of a mustard seed, can move mountains (see Mt 17:20).