1 John 2:7-8
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. 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.
Don’t be confused by John’s choice of words here, as he seems to call the command in question both old and new. He didn’t lose his train of thought or accidentally contradict himself. Instead, John was echoing Jesus’ own teaching about this command. In fact it was John, in his Gospel, who recorded Jesus’ words telling the Disciples, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). That is the new command that Jesus gave his followers and that John reiterates in this passage.
Whether we think of it as new or old, the truth of Jesus’ command is evident in the light of Christ. He first loved us in a way we can hardly fathom, by laying down his own life to save ours, suffering in our place, and sacrificing himself to atone for our sin. Jesus’ love becomes the living example, the perfect standard by which we order our lives. We love one another, just as Jesus loves us. We lay down our lives for each other. We sacrifice to meet one another’s needs. We even choose to suffer in solidarity with one another. This love that Jesus commanded should define the church. Of course, Jesus also calls us to love our neighbors and to show compassion to those in need around us, but there is a special love that should characterize the body of believers. We who have tasted and who seek to understand the amazing love of our Savior should share a deep, Christ-like love with our sisters and brothers in faith.
Sadly, the church doesn’t always reflect Jesus’ perfect love. Sometimes we argue and gossip. Sometimes we act in selfish ways, instead of self-giving ways. John understood that the church is full of sinners who sometimes don’t love one another as we should. That’s why he wrote his letter to remind the church of Jesus’ command, and why all these years later, we still need to take his words to heart. Maybe you have been hurt by someone in the church. Maybe you have done things you now regret. Let’s offer forgiveness where needed, let’s commit ourselves to love better, and let’s rejoice in the grace of God that covers our sin and shame.Father, help me to love the way Jesus loves. Teach me to lift others up and to show mercy to those in need, especially to my church family. May the truth and light of Jesus flow from my life. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian