Sunday, October 25, 2015

1 John 2:9-10 (NRSV): Act in Love

1 John 2:9-10 (NRSV): Act in Love
“Whoever says, ‘I am in the light’, while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling.”

My frustration with closed-minded people sometimes gets the best of me. These moments most often result in my counting to ten and internally reviewing my lack of charity.  But there are many times people act and behave in ways that run counter to my worldview. Those are trying times for me, however, especially when the issues at hand are close to my heart.  My frequent thought is the following: Why do I find it so challenging to love this person? The self-reflective answer is in my need for renewal. This renewal, moreover, is in the light of Jesus Christ.

“The darkness,” according to John, is a cause of spiritual blindness, and many Christians suffer from it. Like a fog, it covers our consciences when we become desensitized to our feelings of hate and sin and no longer seek repentance and reconciliation with the offended person and, in turn, God.  This is the darkness of our fallen humanity; it is what the Early Church Fathers termed concupiscence. Christ, as John reminds us, atoned for that darkness on the cross. He is our light, the example of love and self giving that we must follow. Loving one another, as John writes, is living in this light, and this light give us “no cause for stumbling.”

It is only through Christ’s light in us that we can combat this evil instinct of hate and instead embrace the charitable way of Jesus, a way that connotes loving all people, even if we find their behavior irritating and off-putting.  Love, in this sense, may take the form of hope, hoping for that person’s good; prayer, praying for that person’s conversion; and petition, petitioning God for the grace to be like Christ to that person and to shine a light on their darkness. Loving the difficult-to-love, most importantly, will require change in us, too.  A renewal that only the presence of Christ can make, but we must invite Him in.  I, self-admittedly, need to extend this invitation daily.

May you all be blessed and encouraged in the love and peace of Christ.