A New Commandment


Peninsula Community Church

May 3, 2012

1 John 2:7-11 – A New Commandment

When we look at the passage before us today we see that John uses three key comparisons that qualify the character of the passionate follower of Christ. How we live these out will determine how we display the life of Christ.
1John 2:7-11 My dear friends, I am not writing to give you a new commandment. It is the same one that you were first given, and it is the message you heard. But it really is a new commandment, and you know its true meaning, just as Christ does. You can see the darkness fading away and the true light already shining. If we claim to be in the light and hate someone, we are still in the dark. But if we love others, we are in the light, and we don’t cause problems for them. If we hate others, we are living and walking in the dark. We don’t know where we are going, because we can’t see in the dark.

Notice that he compares the old commandment with the new commandment, he compares the light with the dark and lastly he compares love with hate. While these may seem to be disjointed and disconnected comparisons in reality they are connected by one issue that is a critical theme throughout the Bible and especially throughout the New Testament. Each of these comparisons relates to our focus our attention toward our love for God and for one another.

When John is referring to a new command he is referring to the words of Christ as written by John in John 13:33-35. In this passage Christ stated: My children, I will be with you for a little while longer. Then you will look for me, but you won’t find me. I tell you just as I told the people, “You cannot go where I am going.” But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.

This idea is also found in Christ’s teachings in Matthew where Christ stated: Mat 22:36-40 “Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments.

 What is being communicated through these scriptures is that love must be the focus of why we do what we do and that love is one of the most significant definers of our relationship with Christ and with others. It is interesting to note that in that day the passionate Jew could be recognized by their dress and by what they looked like on the outside. The same would hold true for the military, the poor and so forth. In that day, a person’s occupation was seen most often identified by what they would wear and how they were dressed.

But, here in our text and in the supplemental passages we read Jesus is communicating a new paradigm by which we define the life and actions of a passionate follower of Christ. In essence Jesus through the communication of John is saying that the defining characteristic of a passionate follower of Christ is that they walk in love. In other words, a passionate follower of Christ loves God and therefore seeks to honor Him in all they do. This love encompasses the whole being and all that a person is, as noted in Matthew’s writings. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul and your mind.”

John continues his use of comparison by using two illustrative comparisons as an example of how this is worked out in one’s daily life. He states that the person who is walking in the light of Christ’s revelation is one who walks in love. This is in part because they have experienced the greatness and the magnitude of Christ’s love through forgiveness and wholeness.

The opposite is true as well. One who is not walking in the light is one that exhibits an attitude and characteristic of hatred. Hatred is the opposite of love and is therefore an absence of love. It is interesting to note that in Proverbs 10:12 the writer states: “hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” In the Contemporary English Version it states: “Hatred stirs up trouble; love overlooks the wrongs that others do.” True love can only be realized by accepting God’s love for us. Rather than being dictated to by hatred we can be motivated by love that compels us to serve God with our whole heart. It is interesting to note here that the Greek word used here for love is AGAPE and not PHLILEO or EROS love. The love John is speaking of comes only by way of acknowledging and accepting God’s love.

The fact is we cannot love and hate a person at the same time. We must understand that hatred is not the same as being angry at someone, being disappointed or feeling rejected. You see hatred stores up a list of wrongs against another rather than releasing the wrongs. It is the antithesis of 2 Corinthians 13 which is known as the love chapter. Hatred is self-focused and self-centered rather than others focused and others centered. There is an element of revenge involved. “I don’t get mad; I get even” is the motto of hate.

In the Proverbs passage, it is interesting that the word stir carries with it the idea of awakening. When we carry hatred in our hearts towards another we are in essence awaking the heart toward trouble and strife rather than letting things go. The problem is that most of our hatred is focused on things that cannot be changed and in the end we wound and hurt ourselves in the process.

A saw a movie a number of years ago entitled The Count of Monte Cristo. Edmond Dantes the focus of the story was falsely imprisoned for thirteen years. During this time hate was stirred up within him. While in prison he became friends with a “mad” priest who told stories of a treasure hidden on the Island of Monte Crisco. The priest, Abbe Foria began to teach Dantes how to fend for himself and he taught him the wisdom of the world. They also began to dig their way out of the prison but before they could do so, the priest died and Dantes used this opportunity to escape in the burial linens that were intended for the priest. Once out of prison, he found his way to Monte Cristo where he found the treasure. He began to use this new found treasure to exact his revenge against his four conspirators and especially against the one who had taken his love, Mercedes, from him. He slowly but methodically destroys his enemies. But Mercedes had always loved him. He was filled with hatred and an evil desire for revenge that was destroying him but the one thing that turned him around was the love that Mercedes gave him and showed him.

We can be filled with hatred and darkness may rule our lives but there is one that has been rejected who never stopped loving us. He is ready today to accept us and through love remove the pain of hatred in us so that we can love God and love others in ways we never imagined. Let Him love you today.

 

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