Old and New

Jerry Sittser

READ : 1 John 2:3-14

Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light. (v. 10)

The history of Christianity tells a strange story of gruesome wrongs and great heroism, often coming out of the same circumstances. The state church of Germany, for example, supported Hitler’s plan to restore the fatherland to its former glory, even though it led to the deaths of millions of innocent people, including six million Jews. The confessing church of Germany, however, opposed Hitler. Many were martyred as a result, including the writer and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed for his part in the resistance movement.

John declares unequivocally that hatred has no place in the Christian community, even when it appears to be justified. The “old commandment” he mentions tells us to love people as we love ourselves. The “new commandment” tells us to love people as Jesus loved us (see John 13:34.) As we all know, Jesus loved sacrificially, even to the point of death.

Sacrificial love cannot remain an abstract idea. It demands concrete action. We obey the “new commandment” by loving a rude neighbor, an irritating church member, a selfish boss, a wayward child. Love like this—Jesus-love—is the job description of the Christian community. It demonstrates that we are walking in the light.

PRAYER

Father, empower us to love people as your Son did. In Jesus’ name, Amen.