Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I John - Love One Another - Week 05

This past week in I John we discussed John's "new commandment, but an old commandment."  Echoing back to Jesus' words in the Gospel of John, we saw a strong connection between keeping the commandments and knowing that you know Jesus.  John quotes Jesus as telling his disciples that the key distinguishing feature by which the world would know they were followers of Christ would be their love for one another. 

We had to stop for a moment and examine what kind of love is being referred to.  Our class discussed love and forgiveness of both other believers and unbelievers. In the context of the passage, we determined that the love discussed was the love of a family of believers for each other.  A definitive mark of being a part of the family is in loving the rest of the family.  Once we had established that Christ's followers should "walk as he walked" and "love one another" we had a difficult question to ask ourselves.  Is the church today known and marked by the world for the love it shows for its various members?  

That question left us silent for a few moments.  It would be hard to argue that the world  looks at the church today and sees love.  Sure the world sees "charity" and "donations" as the work of the church, but is genuine love actually viewed as a mark of its very identity?

Many of us were left sadly shaking our heads "no."  Few, if any, of us could honestly say that culture outside of Christ sees that as the case.  However, rather than sit and bemoan the current state of the church at large and her many failings, we were not finished with our introspection.  The next logical question that both Pastor Jon and the epistle of John seemed to be driving us back towards was more internal -- is this love a mark of my identity as a follower of Christ?  Am I characterized by this love?  To be honest, this was a difficult passage to delve into.  The more you consider and think about what John is saying, the deeper and deeper these questions pierce into your actions and motivations throughout each day.  We are no longer able to claim Christ as our LORD while simultaneously trying to cut the throats of our brothers around us.  This passage requires that we take a long, hard look at our lives and this truth and be driven once again back into the arms of Jesus by our immense failures.  We are not loving the brothers like we should, and in our own strength we never will.  But, as we have said many times in this class so far--the mark of a believer, is one who, when faced with his own overwhelming failure and hopelessness, is driven on his knees back to Jesus, rather than the desperation of simply "trying harder."

We will never be able to try hard enough to love the Body.  We will never have the strength to live out Jesus in our walk by ourselves.  Without a constant active dependence on Christ, we are completely hopeless and may as well give up now.  Thankfully, we are not hopeless.  We are simply given countless opportunities to come face-to-face with our own failure and sin.  We are granted the privilege to walk in the light as He is in the light, to keep His commandments, and of course--to love one another.