Text: 1 John 3:1-7
For Spiritual Growth
For those who need someone to notice them
For those we love
One of the most meaningful quotes in my life was one that I came across when I was a college student. While reading selections from Emerson, I read this:
The only reward of virtue is virtue; the only way to have a friend is to be one.
I think that this is a way into understanding how John exhorts us again and again to “abide” in Christ, to “love as we have been loved.” It begins in Christian community—we have been brought from all walks of life, with all kinds of backgrounds and yet we see that God’s love is active in the lives of everyone that surrounds us in the people that gather around the Lord—IF we are willing to look.
So here is the point again: the only way to see God’s love is to look with love.
If we look upon one another with contempt, or with weariness, or even just to look upon one another with the type of disinterest that strangers at an airport do, then we will not see God’s love, we will not see the children of God.
Yet that is what we are. And the reason why is that God did exactly what Emerson suggested.
The only way for God to have children is to be a child—vulnerable, weak, easily overlooked, being in this world without anything that is valuable. Or again, the only way for God to have children is to act like a father—generous, loving, kind, faithful. So many people in our world cluck their tongues as if the Father sending the Son into the world was of no cost to God in heaven. Don’t believe it! The very essence of God is the community of love that is the Three Persons of the Trinity, and for the Son to enter into this world, to suffer, to die means that at the very heart of God, the One who is joy and light and peace, there is a place that knows grief and loss and pain. We celebrate this season of Easter because God did not hold back that which was most valuable to him.
So here we go one more time: the only way to be a child of God is to act like a child of God.
Now, truly, we do not always act like we are children of God. We do not always “abide” in our Lord, we often act like “lawless” children who revert to the one rule of toddlers: if I say it is mine, it is. But Jesus calls to us again and again, granting us grace, forgiveness and hope that each and every time you or I rise from our knees in prayer, we will remember that we are loved and we can love.
One more quote: long ago, Augustine said, “God loves each of us as if there is only one of us.” Let us do the same.
Easter joy ~ Pr. Dave Brooks