Monday, April 9, 2018
And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining. If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness. 1 John 2:3-11(NLT)
It’s hard to know where to begin; our culture has so skewed the meaning of the word “love” that the mere mention of it changes the tenor of a conversation. Indeed there are so many different meanings, and usages within the meanings of English words. Our word spelled T-E-A-R can refer to drops in the eye, rips in the cloth, or the way a car frantically tear-s out of the parking lot.
When John writes about loving one another he uses the word which means true affection in the moral sense – doing the very best for that other person, even if it is at great cost to you, such as giving your only son to die on a cross; it’s the God kind of love.
There is a great confusion that haunts the church these days about applying that concept to the moral dilemma of how to think about loving the sinner and despising the sin. Some look at the concept of love as being throw-open-the-door, all is fine, there isn’t anything you do that can tick God off, so I’m OK, and you’re OK. But that hardly squares with all the prohibitions in Scripture about stealing, lying, profanity, sexual immorality, and so on. Neither does it square with Jesus’ actions recorded in the Gospel accounts where he flipped the tables of the moneychangers and whipped the sellers of doves. Not only did Jesus consider these people sinners – he drove them out of church! In our culture’s social tolerance view that hardly comes under the definition of love. And if we contend that Jesus is the very definition of love, and therefore always acted in love, we either have a skewed definition of love, or a skewed idea of a Savior.
But a simple analogy clears the confusion (even though it’s hard for me to keep anything simple). Consider the parent of a two year old. The Mom and Dad have a child that is petulant and strong-willed. The little man wants to sit on the railroad tracks that run alongside the house. He loves the choo-choo’s whistle-noise and the way the presence of the train shakes everything when it comes through. He wants to be up close, and the best seat in the house is on the tracks. He is only two, so he hasn’t developed the sense of consequences his actions will bring. That is where Mom and Dad enter the picture…as adults, parents, and somewhat older than baby boy, they tell him he can’t do that. What is little boy’s reaction – he calls the child welfare department and his lawyer, alledging his overbearing parents are depriving him of expressing his personhood, stunting his emotional growth, and sues for separation.
Anyone with a functioning brain understands the child is blind to what constitutes his best interest. If the parents are functional they love the child by imposing their will over his foolish behavior.
As a fully (perfect) functioning Heavenly Parent, our God has told us there are some (lots) of behavior that are not good for us; these behaviors separate us and Him. And we ought to keep our cotton-pickin’ hands off them!
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road; have a blessed day.