1John: Obedience in Love

Read 1 John 2:3-11

Once again, John boldly points out the distinction between those walking in light versus darkness, liars, and truthtellers. The lesson is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. When we avoid speaking the truth in love, we fall into a trap. Sometimes this happens when we mistake being kind and considerate for truly being loving. We listen to the voice that encourages doubt by pointing out something that is true. The challenge, of course, is the second half of the equation: in love. If you love me, you will tell me when I’m about to walk into a buzzsaw with my eyes closed. Right? I think that’s what John is doing with this letter to his friends and fellow Christ followers. He’s reminding them of what they already know is true.

Before we jump in, I find myself asking this question, what was he responding to? Did he get a letter from a church member complaining about so and so? Or is this the third time someone visited him from the different church plants with the same issue? The church leaders must have told John there were problems and I think he sees a trend that needed to be addressed right away. His strong response is meant to get their attention.

3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 1 John 2:3-4

If I were to ever preach on this passage, I think I’d title the sermon, Liar. I would unpack the idea of doing what He commands a bit, perhaps the part about making disciples. What do you think? If someone from stage asks you if you are actively making disciples of Jesus and you honestly answer negatively, where does that put you?

Regretfully, I have to confess that I would have been that person just a handful of years ago. I have memorized the verse that said go and make disciples, but I had not mobilized the passage. There’s a huge difference! From my incorrect vantage point,  making disciples was for the paid staff or something. My job was to pull off a great Sunday experience, someone else did the disciple-making. Am I the only one?

Before jumping off the deep end, make sure you read the rest of the story. It’s never too late to start.

5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 1 John 2:5-6

Fortunately for us, we have the Word available to us in many forms. It must have been a lot harder for the first century Christians, but we have little excuse to miss His commands.

Oddly enough, it’s not new.

Dear 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. 1 John 2:7

Sorry, you and I can’t claim we didn’t know. This is nothing new. John is merely reminding us of something we should already know.

Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 1 John 2:8

The “new” part of the command is that Jesus came as the true light to the world. When Jesus taught on love and hate, His words extended the old commands far deeper and wider than anyone ever imagined. The battle begins within the family of Christ.

But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. 1 John 2:11

What does it mean to hate a brother or sister? Some obvious answers come to mind immediately, but there are also many subtle thoughts as well.  The word darkness is repeated three times in that one verse five times in today’s reading. Perhaps this is something we should stop and consider. And I’m confident that John’s reference to brother or sister extends beyond the biological family to all of those that claim Jesus as Lord.

Thoughts that dwell in darkness are not from Christ. These are whispers from the chief of lies, the one who lives in darkness and runs from the light.

Hate is different from disagreement. Don’t fall into that trap. John doesn’t suggest we all agree on every little thing. Hate is much deeper; it is something that resides in the heart. You can’t have hate and love in the same heart. You have to have one or the other. The good news is this; Christ replaced our hearts! This is the great reminder from John.

Holy Spirit fill our hearts with Your love and chase away any darkness that blinds us. Help us to speak the truth in love and rid ourselves from all malice, anger, envy, and thoughts that are not from You.

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

My prayer is for you to join me on this journey. Subscribe to this blog below to get an email when a new post is available.

Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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