2 John 1:1-13 (4/1/12)
This tiny letter was most likely written to a church, not to an individual, although scholars aren’t 100% certain about that. “You” is singular in some verses, but plural in others. Certainly the idea of God’s people as a “lady” – or at least as a woman, God’s bride – is ancient one, so verses 1 (“lady”) and 13 (“sister”) could be read either way.
The main thing I’ve always noticed about this letter is that it contains nothing about behavior, other than a general instruction to keep the commandments. Paul, Peter, James, and Jude pack their letters with do’s and don’ts, good examples and bad examples. John has one rule: Love. It has always seemed to me that John’s idea is that if you love God and your neighbor, your behavior will take care of itself.
1 John 2:3-11 (4/3/12)
John says there is a simple test by which we can tell whether we are keeping the commandments of Jesus: do we love other people?
Now, there are a few people I don’t especially like, and there are many, many people that that I don’t love in the way that I love, say, my kids. Neither of those are what the scripture is talking about. The love we need to show to other people is to treat them exactly the way we want to be treated, whether we like them or not, whether we are related to them or not.
Today I had three or maybe even four chats with people at the NM Department of Labor. They have made their system more difficult to use than it was before, and the first person gave me some misinformation. The very nice lady that I talked to two or three times after that (“Yes, that was me you talked to before”) was courteous, patient, and friendly in the face of my frustration and repeated phone calls. She is a very loving lady! Can we try to be just as kind, patient, and loving as a tax collector?
1 John 3:1, 10-24 (4/4/12)
John makes an interesting point in vs. 12. Cain was from the evil one, doing what was evil, and therefore he murdered his brother. If you look at Genesis 4, God rejects Cain’s offering before Cain murders his brother. God rejected his offering not because of the murder, but because Cain was the type of person who would murder. Next John hearkens back to what Jesus says in Matthew 5: anger at your brother is worthy of the same punishment as murder.
John keeps saying that it’s not a new commandment that we should love one another. It’s one of the old commandments, and furthermore, it’s the one that will keep us from doing evil and being worthy of death. Love long and prosper!
1 John 4:7-21 (4/5/12)
We’ve seen that the two commandments are these: Love God. Love your neighbor. John implies in vs. 20 that this is more-or-less the same commandment, because it’s impossible to love God if you don’t love your neighbor.
Sometimes, though, my neighbor doesn’t seem all that lovable. Then what am I supposed to do? Good thing that Jesus tells us that what is impossible for us is possible for God. God loved us first, therefore we can love others (vs. 19).
Eventually John gets around to saying that there’s really only one commandment (vs. 21). I especially like the way that the Contemporary English Version translates it:
“The commandment that God has given us is: ‘Love God and love each other!’ ”
No commas, no ifs, ands, or buts. Just “love God and love others.” This is the central teaching for Christian behavior.
Ephesians 3:14-21 (4/6/12)
Paul always prayed for his converts and his churches. In this passage, he prays particularly that they will be rooted and grounded in love – the love of Christ. This is also my prayer for you.
More about Living the Christian Life
A Call to Christian Living
Living So It Shows
Sharing the Good News
Who Is Your Legacy?
Five Spiritual Disciplines
New Life and New Standards
Living in the World
Love One Another
Again, Love One Another
And as a Final Word, Love One Another
Copyright 2012 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
St. John’s United Methodist Church,
2626 Arizona NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110
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Traditional worship services are held Sundays at 8:15 and
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