Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Testing Our Authenticity

Yesterday we were considering the foundational fact that obedience is an outward act of love. It can also be the result of fear but fear produces a great list of negatives that would never result from the motivation of love. Love is by far the greater and healthier motivation of obedience, especially in relationships. Parents can motivate their children into obedience with the fear of punishment, and there are times this is necessary, but the greater choice is to create an atmosphere of love. Jesus' message was from this perspective of love. He did warn us of the consequences of our actions so we would be aware but his desire was for us to respond to the love of the Father revealed through him:

If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. (John 14:23-24)

Now John had a clear vision and understanding of this love and made it the theme in everything he wrote. He had the understanding that this love was not a new thing that the disciples just happened to stumble upon. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. What he is today he was yesterday and will still be tomorrow. So John writes:

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. (1 John 2:7)

Yet, as old as this message was, it was revealed in a new way, in a new light. The Father revealed his heart in a way never seen before and expressed his love in an action never taken before. It is the same love caste in a new light:

Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. (1 John 2:8)

Note that John says the truth of this new command is seen in Jesus and in us. He paints this picture of the darkness of this world falling away as the light increases. The light is the love of the Father which was revealed in the love and obedience of Jesus and is now seen in us. This is the reason John wrote:

Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6)

Jesus walked in the light; love and obedience. We are to walk in this same light, being used to drive out the darkness of this world. Jesus said that if we loved him we would obey what he taught us. John gives us one simple test that we can use to see if we are walking in this light of love and obedience:

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him. (1 John 2:9-11)

There is nothing here that can be argued against and it is a test that any of us can understand. If we hate then there is no truth found in us and we do not really know Jesus. If we hate then we have missed the whole point of Jesus message and purpose. If we hate then we have never understood the cross. If we hate then we do not know the Father's heart. But be careful because the absence of hate does not indicate the presence of love. You can feel neutral, uncaring, unfeeling without hating but this still is not what we have been commanded to do. Love prompts action. Love spurs us to action. Love is expressed and understood in action. Jesus left no doubt that love must be expressed through us. He said:

And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' (Matthew 22:39)

But he said more than this. He also taught:

You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  (Matthew 5:43-48)

A very clear teaching and one that John says indicates whether we are truly in Jesus as we claim to be. John says if we claim to be in the light yet hate people we are still in the dark. That is worth some reflecting today. Our dark world needs to see the authentic light in us. Jesus has done his part to perfection and now we are called upon to do ours as light bearers. It requires obedience motivated by love. It always has. He told us that if we loved him we would do what he has commanded and he has commanded us to love.


Colleen Foshee said...

For me this "being in the light" has been a process. I can look back and see how the Holy Spirit has led me into more and more truth...understanding...light. As christians we should be changing - becoming more like Jesus. If we can't see progression, we should probably be concerned if we are truly "in Jesus". His presence in a person is too powerful for nothing to come of it.
I loved reading this first thing this morning Pastor Paul. I'm asking the Holy Spirit if He has anything to say about it for me.

val said...

It is written: A woman shall compass a man and create a new thing in the earth (Jer 31:22), the man is Satan(Isa 14:16), the new thing is now delivered to the world. There is no hell fire for any child of God. God is not a murderer. Satan has deceived the whole world (Rev 12:7), until the heel of time(Gen 3:15). Check out the bruising of Satan by his lies being exposed at http://thegoodtale.blogspot.com.