Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Johnny Poppin 5: Living in the Light

7Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. -1 John 2:7-8
in the Gospel of John 13:34-35, Jesus told His disciples (John being one of them) "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

THAT is the whole point which I was trying to make in my past post on 1 John. They will know we are Christians by our love. All the law and the prophets is summed up in these, love the Lord your God with all your heart... and love you neighbor as ourselves. These three remain, faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love. That's not from the Beatles of from some tree-hugging, granola chewing, pot smoking hippie- that's from God.

Before you start thinking that this is light-weight, touchy-feely, girlie, panzy stuff- John gets pretty serious and hard core in the next few verses.

9Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him. -1 John 2:9-11
What causes hate? Why did Cain's familial love for his brother get overridden by enough hate to kill him? Ignorance? Fear? Anger? Jealousy? Pride? Being offended somehow? Insecurity? Competition for resources, for interests, for attention, position, control? Prejudice? All these things. Tuck away the word fear into a file cabinet in your brain, because we'll address it again later on in 1 John. For now, know that if hate is the opposite of love, fear is the opposite of faith. (you probably thought that it was the opposite of courage or confidence, but trust me on this one. And remember, that fear and love are enemies. Love crowds out fear and hate. I've always tried to explain "sin" to people as anything we think, feel, or do which damages our relationships with God or with others.

Mirriam Webster says that hate is an intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury. When we hate, we dislike and what's more we wish ill for someone. I want to remind you that in Matthew 5:21-22 Jesus says that hate is pretty much equivalent to murder.

It's like the old joke; "I'm a pacifist. I believe in peace, and I believe in it so strongly that I'm willing to fight for that belief!" Note the irony.

But how often do we see it played out in real life? Animal rights activists so enraged by cruelty to animals that they resort to violence against humans. Or someone who is so "Pro-life" that they bomb a health clinic where they are performed, or that they assassinate a doctor who performs late term abortions while he serves as an usher at church.

I'm not trying to pick on the pro life movement or condone abortion- what I'm trying to point out is that ALL of us (myself included) tend to get complacent and assume that we're "good" Christians and don't sin, when every day we allow hate to influence our motivations and cloud our judgments, taint our reactions, and before long, it permeates every aspect of our unconscious without our even realizing it.

Lord Jesus,
this Advent season, come into our lives and open our eyes to Your light and may we live and walk in the light of Your love, no more to stumble around in the darkness of our petty, selfish hate- whether it be a burning, consuming hatred or a gradually corrosive yet hardly noticeable mundane and banal, everyday sneaky or subconscious hate. Instead, help us to abide by Your commandment to love one another, to love You above all else and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

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