1John 3:11-24 For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us--and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.
This letter is written in a context of church division. There are some who have broken away from the church led by John, and they are suggesting that John was misguided and they alone had the truth. John replies by using the illustration of Cane and Able: both are brothers from the same family, but one became a murderer because his “deeds were evil and his brother's righteous “. John suggests that the only way of testing which brother was righteous is to look for “love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action”.
Like John, we too live in a world where we divide ourselves against each other on the basis of claiming sole access to the truth. Even worse, we (who ‘have the truth’) are then tempted to think angry, murderous thoughts of those who hold a different religious point of view to us. Recently, when someone heard that I was in Japan, her response was one of dismay: “Jesus is not in that country”. While it is true that organized Christian churches are a miniscule part of this country’s religious statistics, that does not mean that Jesus is not here! John says that “we will know that we are from the truth” wherever people love “in truth and action” (vs18-19). In the past two weeks I have received nothing but the greatest love and respect from the Japanese people. I see the same kind of love that Jesus showed, in the lives and actions of the people here. To use the metaphor of John, let us not become like ‘Cane’ with the Japanese ‘Abel’.
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
C. Herbert Woolston (1856-1927)
Second Sunday of EasterPartakers of Eternal Life
Scripture reading taken from A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants p.148