Seriously Read First John
It won’t take you long, and it may be one of the most important summations of how to live our faith in relationships. It is about love, but do not miss that it has boundaries and people who are working against the cause of Christ.
We often think of love as this sweet lovely feeling that we should have for people. Every now and then someone will confess, “I just don’t love that person.” Or some spouse will whisper, “I just do not love my spouse anymore.” And these sentences betray our love-ignorance.
Love is not a feeling in the Bible or in our faith. It should not be something that we talk about as if it is. Love is what we do. It is an action. It is not a passively received state.
I could wax about how this is a romantic notion that came from poet-philosophers who were not all that good at being good, but I will not. You can find that book online, or better, at a local bookstore.
What I want you to see in First John is that love in our faith and teachings is about how we witness to what we know, “what we have seen and heard and known” as the writer puts it. We bear witness to God and Christ in our love, our actions to other people, most of whom we do not even know.
That kind of love and the life it creates in us will have opposition, which is strange but true. It is not a way of being that the world really understands. But it is the way of the cross. It is the way of Christ. And it is the way of Christ Church of the Ascension.
We all have to be transformed in order to live in that kind of relationship and we all need to support to stay in that kind of life when we don’t feel like it. That is why we promise in baptism to “continue in the fellowship and breaking of the bread.”
I cannot choose this life, this love, for you. I can offer it. I can invite you. I can figure it out with you one worship service, one class, one act of love, one step at a time.
The Rev. Daniel P. Richards
Christ Church of the Ascension
Paradise Valley, Arizona