Our FATHER in Heaven; Thank you for the opportunity to live another day. Open our hearts and minds during this time of reflection and grant us clarity and understanding. Give us the wisdom to know your will and the courage and confidence to live according to it. Amen. 1 John 3:11-20 11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[a] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
The cracks formed early and severely. From the serpent’s lying words to Cain’s bloody hands these events are separated only by a single chapter in Genesis. This world is broken, fractured by sin. Even though John says we should not be I am amazed by how broken the world is. In 2011, seventy-nine percent of all reported murders in the U.S. were committed by friends, loved ones, or acquaintances. Murdered by the very people of whom they were the closest.
This passage reminds me of one of Pastor’s reoccurring themes. We are at war. It is a second by second struggle that save for one thing would be impossible to win. In the first sentence of the passage John dresses us for battle and arms us with the message of unconditional love. CHRIST has given us the example to follow not just because he laid down his life, but more importantly why he did it. His demonstration of love is a very tough act to follow. How can we love the one that kidnapped, raped, and held three little girls for more than a decade? How can we love the one that coldly walked into a Connecticut pre-school and murdered dozens of children? How oh LORD, do we love those that spate on you and nailed spikes into your flesh and cheered as you bled out from the cross. How do we love a lying child, a cheating spouse, a drunken abusive parent?
The answer is we simply cannot truly love anyone if we are living according to the ways of that serpent. The world is his broken mess. But the power to live a life of love in this broken world has been provided to us by our LORD JESUS CHRIST. We love because he first loved us. John is pushing us to move beyond our comfort zone into our new identity, the one that equips us to live in this world as it prepares us for the next. In this passage John reminds us that we know the truth and we cannot ignore it.
It is not easy, but it is sooo worth it. As the songwriter says, “…and they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.” How about you? What does this broken world know you by?