Friday, April 25, 2014

Love is not a Creed but an Activity

1John 3:11  For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12  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. 13  Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you. 14  We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15  All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. 16  We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us--and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 17  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? 18  Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. 19  And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him 20  whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21  Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; 22  and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. 23  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. 24  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. I have heard some Christian people make deeply insulting remarks about Muslim people; similarly I have been dismayed to hear Christian people speak with contempt about those who hold to their traditional cultural beliefs and practices. To use the metaphor of John’s letter, let us not become like ‘Cane’ who was unable to love ‘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.

Second Sunday of Easter
23 Partakers of Eternal Life
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Rueben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 148.

This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day

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