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Friday, April 17, 2015

Today’s Reading | 1 John 2:1–17

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says, “I abide in him,” ought to walk just as he walked.

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word that you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new commandment that is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.

I am writing to you, little children,
   because your sins are forgiven on account of his name.
I am writing to you, fathers,
   because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young people,
   because you have conquered the evil one.
I write to you, children,
   because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
   because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young people,
   because you are strong
   and the word of God abides in you,
      and you have overcome the evil one.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever. (NRSV)

We’re constantly preparing for something. As children, we memorize times tables, vocabulary, and historical dates for weekly tests. As young adults, we practice our driving skills and write personal essays for college admission. As adults, we can never prepare enough for the unexpected challenges and surprises life places on our human journey. We prepare and memorize facts, figures, rules, policies, strategies—to the point of exhaustion and mere execution. Then the exam is behind us, we’ve overcome the challenge of the day, and we’re back to our old habits.

The patterns feel the same as a Christian. As children, we memorize prayers and hymns, we prepare for confirmation, we follow the expectations of our parents to attend services throughout the year, especially during Holy Week and Christmas. But once we’ve reached all of those milestones and have met those tangible expectations, what do we do as adults?

In today’s passage, God is not merely giving us directions to follow for mere necessity. God is giving us direction. The prayers we speak and the services we attend mean nothing if we don’t couple them with good intentions and a willingness to do good for our sisters and brothers. To really know God and to be a true Christian means to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. As it states in 1 John, simply saying we forgive someone or don’t hate them, though we’re still bound by hatred or judgment, means we do not know God as we truly should.

We are often bound by worldly emotions such as greed, judgment, and jealousy, but we must continue to prepare our hearts for God by living out the word and not just speaking it.

Dear God, remind me to follow in the footsteps of Jesus’ teachings, and guide me to a life filled with love and forgiveness. Be present in my thoughts, words, mind, and heart. Amen.

Written by Jackie Lorens,
Director, Chicago Lights Elam Davies Social Service Center

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