Warning - this is yucky and beautiful all at the same time...
We have been studying 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John this summer - and Matt was preaching in 1 John 2:3-11.
We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have hard. Yet I am writing you a new command: its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
In studying this passage in depth, it is clear that John is speaking to the Church about loving each other. He understood, and lived, the reality that if the Church is not unified in love, the world will never know Christ. The original command that John is talking about in this passage is John 13:34-35.
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47).
Having everything in common does not mean we are cookie cutter molds of each other...it means we are living out the reality that we are made in the image of Christ - it means living as He did - it means meeting each other's needs.
This week I have seen our church begin to truly love one another. I have felt my heart tenderize toward understanding I have no idea how to love others, truly. Which brings me back to my study of Nehemiah. In the first few verses of Nehemiah, he asks Hannani about Jerusalem and the Jews who survived the exile. Nehemiah (who was a Jew) wanted to know what was going on with his people. He was genuinely concerned about their welfare - and we will see in later chapters that he risks everything for the chance to help them rebuild. What struck me, was that I often shield myself from finding out what is going on in people's lives for fear that I will be held responsible for it. With information, comes responsibility - so if I know of someone else's need, I might be required to DO something about it. I know, this is a yucky confession, but it's true. And I have realized that the same thing happens in my own life. When there is something I need, I don't want someone else to feel the burden of it, so I don't share it. I sometimes don't even share with Dan - the one person who knows and loves me despite myself - one of only a few people who would drop everything to meet the need if he knew of it.
I so desperately want this to change. I want to learn how to love better. I want to learn how to understand Christ's love better so that I can express it to others - my family, my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ, this lost and hurting world. I'm incredibly sick of believing the enemy's lie that I am a burden to others when I express need. Will you pray with me - that we learn to love each other? That we come together in unity to fight for this fallen world? That we will be intentional in living this life Christ has called us to, not compromising for a second!
P.S. I love you!