Pastoral Reflection

September 15, 2020

“A New Command”

7 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 heard. 8 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.

9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.
1 John 2:7-10

Since God is light, in order to have fellowship with God, we are to walk in the light. To walk in the light, we are to confess our sins to God and obey his commandments. In today’s text, John highlights a particular command of Christ we are to obey.

That command is to love our neighbors. Instead of the word “neighbor”, John employs the word “brother,” to make our neighbors more personal. John does not mean only our biological brother or spiritual sister. A brother or sister includes any human being outside the church.

The command to love one another is an old one. Not just because it is in the Old Testament. It is old in the sense that God’s will for us to love others does not change. That is permanent.

What is new is that “its truth is seen in him and in you.” (v. 8) The truth of love is seen in Jesus and in his followers. God’s love for us has been revealed in a new way through Jesus Christ. Jesus demonstrated what true love is by dying for us as an atoning sacrifice. And we are made new because of Christ’s grace. We are changed by his love.

Along with the command to love, God also supplies us with the power to love. First, we are enabled to love because we are “the beloved.” Though NIV begins verse 7 with “Dear friends,” in the original Greek, John wrote “Agapetoi,” or “Beloved.” Agapetoi are people who have received and experienced God’s agape love. We love because God first loved us.

Second, we are enabled to love “because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.” (v.8) We live in a new age because Christ won a decisive battle against evil. This shift in the balance against evil is also what is new about the command to love. We are empowered to love because we know that darkness cannot overcome light.

We can love our brothers and sisters because we are loved dearly by our heavenly Father. We can love other brothers and sisters without fear because evil cannot overcome those who walk in the light.

How can we demonstrate God’s unconditional love to our brothers and sisters? The least we can do is continue to wear masks and keep social distance. It is to follow the county and state guidelines even when no one else is looking.

Those who refuse to wear a mask and keep social distance for the sake of “personal liberty,” do not love their neighbors. As John states in verse 11, they “walk around in darkness and do not know where they are going.”

Pastor Joe
Tuesday, September 15, 2020