Stroll through Scripture for July 7, 2024

Based on 1 John 3:16-24

Is it coincidence that John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16 sound so very similar?  Both talk about love that is willing to lay down one’s life for others.  One of the most popular topics of music is love.  But often it’s not this type of love that is being sung about.  God’s love is deep and vulnerable.  Do we think of God as being vulnerable?  I’m not sure how else to describe a willingness to lay down one’s life for another other than being vulnerable.  It’s the ultimate act of vulnerability.  

Each verse of this selection of Scripture can stand alone as a sermon.  Every verse has a powerful message.  Verse 17 is just one example – “How does God’s love abide in anyone who had the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?”  Yes, good question.  Yet, somehow there seems to be plenty who in so-called Christian America who have no trouble refusing to help someone in need.  We’ve gotten really good at coming up with excuses for why we shouldn’t help too.  

Verse 18 – “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”  So why is the focus of so many churches about who have the “right” beliefs?  It’s as if we have read the words of this letter and decided to do the exact opposite over and over again.  

But none of this is new.  I’m imagining that the author of 1 John wrote what he wrote because the same issues that see around us and within us today were there when the author penned the words.  Why else would they need to be written?  This seems to be a consistent human challenge – verbally claiming to believe something while acting in opposition to those same things.  I have often said that what people verbalize as their beliefs if often aspirational – what they want to believe about the world, themselves, and others.  But if you watch what people do, you’ll see what they actually believe.  

Verse 23 breaks it all down into a simple idea – “And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.”  So simple, yet it seems nearly impossible.  

Christianity is really pretty simple when it comes down to it – Claim to follow Jesus, listen to what he had to say, and then go and do those things.  Part of the challenge is that we assume that everyone believes the same things about Jesus – the things that we ourselves believe.  But that’s rarely the case.  But here’s the good news – you and I aren’t called to correct everyone else, so they get it right.  We’re called to listen and to follow.  That’s enough for anyone.  

Questions for reflection:

  • How much time do you focus on how other people are getting it wrong in following Jesus versus how you are doing with that?  Why?  
  • What is your struggle with loving, “not in word or speech, but in truth and action?”
  • How do each of us love one another?  

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