Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Simple Equations

In today’s world performance outstrips everything else. All can be and will be overlooked if one brings in the results – whatever that may be. The bottom line is the bottom line in a balance sheet: do the profits look good? The end is more important than means therefore collateral damage is the catch word.

 Walking the straight and narrow is becoming a thing of the past or is certainly under threat.

Ethics and Character have no part to play in this game of success and being opportunity driven rather than value driven is becoming the norm. One only needs to look at politics to see it at its best.

All that is very well; we can moan about all the lack of integrity out there and how rotten the system is, how immoral x, y and z and shake our heads at “them”.  But, what about us Christ followers? My daily Bible reading and meditations have made me reflect much on this. Let me share my thoughts and reflections with you.

I have been in the book of 1 John for some time now simply because it’s not an easy book to read through and walk away from unchallenged or unprovoked.

John throws a challenge to the Christ follower to love. One would think he is stating the obvious – of course we are called to love !!  Easier said, than done !

I feel 1 John and 1 Corinthians 13 are two sides of the same coin. One challenges our beliefs and allegiance to God and the other challenges our practice of this confession and the attitudes of the heart that underlie everything we do – even the use of the great gifts.

Often  these days we are willing to side step the character issues that crop up; turning a blind eye simply because we are blinded by the gifting before us and to the opportunities that are presenting itself to us.

While it’s all very well to point fingers, 1 John brings the truth starkly home. He addresses “me” and not “them”. He hammers away mostly at one point from every angle even at the risk of over repeating himself in every little chapter in this even smaller book. I think he knows how easy it is for us to want to skip what we don’t want to hear to the other “interesting “bits that we want to .

But he comes at it again and again. He puts before us some very simply equations so that we don’t miss it.

Here are some I have jotted down
1:5 God is light = no darkness In Him
2:3 Knowing God = obeying Him
John is establishing where he is coming from. Then he homes in on what he wants to focus on.
2:5  Light= no hate
Hate = darkness. The math is pretty simple, clear cut as black white
Let’s  go further
2:12-14   John reassures us of our forgiveness and position of being over comers in Christ.
2:15-17 Love  God = hate the world
John seems to have been contending with a lot of liars and deceptive people!! Is it different today?
3:10 Children of God = those who love their brother
 Doing what is right = a child of God
3:11 Love one another is the bottom line
3:15 Hate one’s brother = a murderer
Murderer = hell
3:6 Love = Jesus dying for us
 Brotherly love = laying down our lives for each other.
3:17 Love = meet each other’s needs.
3:18 Love = action
3:22 Obedience to God =  answered prayers
4:16 God is love = we should love = God lives in us
4:19 Hate your brother = liar = hates God. WOW!! John is turning up the heat. He is not mincing words.
4:21 Love God = Love brother
5:1 Love God = Obey God

In such a short book John packs a solid punch! That’s a lot of emphasis on one point. Interesting to note John is not encouraging us to love the unbeliever, the persecutor. He is commanding us to love our brother!!!

What he is saying is (and I paraphrase) : don’t you get it ? You don’t have a choice in this one. You have to love. And if you can’t, there is no fudging it. It’s as clear as crystal, as plain as day. There is no second interpretation, no further explanations, contextualization’s and all the other lame duck excuses you give not to obey a passage in scripture. Bottom line – you have got to love your brother no matter what.

Even as I write it send shivers down my spine. This is ruthless coming from the apostle of love. It’s downright radical. Take or leave it – that’s what John is saying.

Who is my brother? Is a clever devious question I might throw to save my skin, in my defense trying to justify a lack of brotherly love across borders or denominations, churches, apostolic movement I belong to etc etc. Let’s not try and see much hate I can get away with. The truth is God is love and I have to love at all times and EVERYONE. Jesus once said on the Sermon on the Mount “Love your enemies…”  There goes my last chance at hate! – All excuses crumble at the cross.

The point I think John is making is – guys love is not an option you can opt out of, we have to love everyone. If we can be forgiving and tolerant toward the unbeliever,  how much more our own brothers.

I find the book entirely rhetorical in nature. John states the obvious because sometimes it needs to be said. It’s like saying you drive a car you don’t push it. If you push it around, it’s not a car anymore. Therefore get into the car and drive for it to be a car!! Get it?

I think I  am getting it  - therefore no room for grudges, hurts, nursing old wounds, playing  politics and all the others thing even we Christ followers have got cozy with simply because rationalizing comes easy when the shoe is on the other foot.

As I reflect I think of those I find hard to love, I think of those old wounds that won’t heal because I keep pulling the scab off, etc. Can we resolve to deal with these things before we grow old and bitter and realize that all the hate was not worth it after all? There is so much in life to appreciate and love and be thankful for.

So this brings me back to where I first started . I can be very gifted, very well known, very liked , even in the Christian circles but that does not really count. In the final reckoning of things if i do not have love I am nothing ( 1 Corinthians 13 lays it our starkly). In the final scheme of things "success" as everyone sees it may not necessarily be so because I have neglected this one very important thing called love. Sobering isn't it?

Let’s drop all that stuff and just do it – LOVE.


 Image credit - http://amandapanda84.wordpress.com/

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