1 John 2:7-11
7 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. 8 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.
9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 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.I have been praying over these verses all day. What, Father, would you have me to say.
Yes, the command John writes for us, it is both old and new. This command to love God and to love our brothers, it has been the desire of God's heart since He spoke and the universe was formed. The command to love God, and to demonstrate that love through our obedience is strewn through the Old Testament. Instructions to care for the widow and orphan, to love one another, to care for our neighbor... we find this throughout scripture as well. It's also new in that Jesus took it to a whole new level- who is your neighbor? Love your enemy! Forgive one another, and seek forgiveness! And do all of this with the power of the Holy Spirit He sent to take up residence in our hearts... He doesn't just give us the command, but He equips us to actually do it.
Yes, I can't say that I love God and then also hate my brother. That makes sense. Love comes from the Light. The Light is Love.
All true, but there is more. There is another layer here. Help me uncover it Father. What would YOU have me to say? To share? To teach? To learn? What is there that I am not seeing?
I have read the study notes in three different Bibles. I have sought His face, His voice. I have prayed. I have contemplated. I read the passage in several translations... and then, as so often is the case, the Message spoke right to my heart... another layer...
Anyone who claims to live in God’s light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It’s the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God’s light and doesn’t block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn’t know which end is up, blinded by the darkness. (vs 9-11).Do you see it? Do you see it right there in the middle... It's the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God's light and doesn't block the light from others.
I want to be a Lightbearer. Not a Light-blocker. I want to dwell in God's Light. Live right there in it's warmth. Welcome it's uncovering of the darkness in my heart. I want it to shine in me and through me and spill out onto others.
And what does that look like? What does dwelling in the Light look like? What does not-blocking-the-Light entail???
It's the person who loves....
You see, one thing I know about God is that He is love... and that one cannot grow closer to Him without growing in their own capacity to love. You invite God into your heart in a greater and greater measure, then you are inviting Love into your heart in a greater and greater measure...
and it will be evidenced in your life.
it will shine in you and through you and spill out on onto others.
Your love for God is evidenced in your love for your brother and sisters. And this love does not block the light from others.
I'm going to take it a step further. Because the Jews of Jesus' day got all tripped up on the language used... who is our neighbor, Rabbi? And then Jesus set everything they knew on its ear. As Christians we do the same thing. Even today, seeking His revelation on this passage, I searched out the meaning of "brother" here... who is our brother? Is He just talking about other Christians here? Our brothers and sisters in Christ?? After all the New Living Translation actually says "but hates a Christian brother or sister" in verse 9...
But I can't shake the feeling that defining our brothers as just those who think like us... is... so narrow. That if we were to ask Jesus "who is our brother" He would tell us a parable that would set everything we understood on its ear.
That we aren't just called to love those who already know Jesus because... frankly, that's not the way Jesus Himself loved.
Jesus specifically sought out the homes of the sinners, the tax collectors, the cast offs. He met up with the woman at the well, on purpose... He met her right where she was and He loved her right out of that place. He didn't wait for her to "come clean" before He offered her the Living Water. He loved her first, exposed her sin later, and a whole town was won in the end.
I wonder, when we say we want to love like Jesus, look like Jesus, be His hands & feet & heart... I wonder... if it shouldn't look like this?
I want to tread carefully here. I want you to hear my heart on this...
Because I really do believe that the love of Jesus is a radical love, and so the love of Jesus flowing through us should look a little crazy, overwhelming, radical... and a little less like judgement.
I say this with caution, because I am not a "judge not lest ye be judged" kind of person... I know that read in context that this verse tells us we need to be a lot more concerned with walking in holiness ourselves so that we can see and help our brother with the speck in his eye (check it out, that's really what it says). More on that in another post, perhaps.
This is my heart tonight... this is my heart for the lost, dying, hurting, broken, not-knowing-Jesus world...
They will never be won by a picket sign.
Or a picture of an aborted fetus.
Or a pointing finger.
Or an "us vs. them" mentality.
This world will only be won by His love.
I may stumble my way back to church out of a fear of Hell... but it's only a discovery of His love that will keep me there.
And since the lost aren't listening for His voice...
they can only know His love as it pours into us, through us, spilling out of us onto them.
Even when they are waist deep in the sinful life.
And this love does not block the light from others.
I sat on the floor with one crying from the depth of her soul. Her own sin so shocking to her that she could not even speak. The wails and the moans that poured forth ripped through my spirit. And I was overwhelmed with love for her. Not because I am so good, or so perfect, or so holy... but because I asked God to equip me in that moment and that's what He gave me. Love. Why love? Because condemnation, in that moment, would have locked her in a prison of shame and guilt and fear... but love... oh LOVE BRINGS FORTH THE LIGHT. And she needed the Light then more than any other time in her life. She needed love.
Isn't that how Jesus loved?
But the church... oh we so often act more like the religious leaders who brought the adulterous woman before Jesus, ready to stone her. Picking and choosing the sins to highlight (the man was not brought forth, as the law would have also required). Pointing to her sin as much greater than our own. Carrying our picket sign against it.
But Jesus... He didn't join the crowd. No instead...
And this love poured Light into her life.
I want my love to do the same thing. I want my witness to be one that builds up rather than condemns. I want my life to be one that doesn't block the light from others.
That's why my words on Facebook, and this blog, and I hope in my life reveal so much more about the things that I am for than the things I am against. Because when I speak out against abortion, there very well could be a woman at the table across from me, who has walked through that [some statistics show that as many as one out of three women are post-abortive]. I made that mistake the other day, and in my spirit I just knew that there was one in the room who was staring at her hands because she had been there... and that my words did not encourage, or build her up, or remind her how precious she is to the Father... but brought feelings of shame and guilt and fear.
Oh, Father...Did I block your light?
One out of three. That is frightening on so many levels... oh those women! Oh how their hearts must ache! How their minds must wonder... "what if..." One out of three. That means an anti-abortion message on my Facebook wall could block the light for as many as three hundred women. I'm not saying you shouldn't post these things on Facebook, or speak them in your life... I am explaining my own conviction, and why I don't [except when I do, like the other day, and then I don't feel great about it]. Because her life is as important to me as the baby that she didn't have. And so I want her to know the forgiveness of Christ. The mighty work He has done in my life. How precious she is to Him... How very precious... How wide and deep and high His love for her is... and I don't know that condemnation will do that for most women.
I want to meet her where she is and then love her out of that place. I want to touch her hand and look into her eyes and have an overwhelming love pour through me.
I want to talk to my homosexual friend in a way that he knows I love him... from the depths of who I am... and when he asks what the Bible says about his lifestyle I want to answer in a way that brings hope. And truth. And love.
I want to meet with the girl in jail and have her know that Jesus loves her.
I want to sit on the floor with a sister waking up from her sin and let her know that God isn't done with her yet. That there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
I want them to know His love.
I want you to know His love.
Oh friend, whatever you have walked through. Whatever your history, or your sin, or your hang up, or your addiction....
Jesus loves you.
And so do I.
So do we.
Sometimes we just aren't sure how to show it. Sometimes it's hard to know how to take a stand for what is right, and still love the one that is wrong. Love the sinner, hate the sin... it's tricky stuff.
Father, oh Lord won't you help us know how to love? Won't you help us know when to speak, when to take a stand, when to use our voice to protect the voiceless.... and when to love quietly? When to be extravagant with grace? Lord won't you guide our words and our actions so that the world would know YOU are at work in our lives? Father give us a greater capacity to love. Lord please, please won't you dig deep wells of love in our hearts, and then fill us to overflowing with a light that pours out into this world! Lord won't you remind us that it is not our job to convict... only the Holy Spirit can do that! Only your Holy Spirit can change! Only your Holy Spirit can bring about repentance... oh but we can LOVE! Lord will you let your light shine in our hearts, casting out all darkness! Father will you make us a people who never, never blocks the light from others... Thank you for equipping us to this calling with the power of YOUR Holy Spirit.... in the name of your beautiful Son I pray...