1 John 2:10-11
10 "He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness
still. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in it there is no
cause for stumbling. 11 But he who hates his brother is in the darkness, and
does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes."
John returns here to some ideas he has already touched on in his letter and
expands on them. John has already told his readers that God Himself is light
and in Him there is absolutely no darkness. In God all things are clear and
so, true intimate fellowship is possible in Him and with Him, when we are in
the light. But we can also have intimate fellowship with one another when we
are in the light. In fact, John indicates that fellowship is only possible
in the light. When there is deceit, true fellowship cannot occur. And, as we
have talked about, we know this in our own lives. A friendship can only go
as far as there is trust and trust must be based on the truth. It is impossible
to trust when there is deceit--if trust grows in a relationship that has had
some deception in it, it is certainly not on the basis of that deception but
on the basis of assurance that the deception has now ended.
To walk in this light is not to already be perfect ourselves. It is to place
ourselves in God's hands to be cleansed from our sins. It is to turn over our
unbelief or lack of trust to Him to have Him make His life manifest in us.
To have His word in us, is to admit the truth of our own inadequacy to make
ourselves sinless or to rescue ourselves out of darkness.
In the passage right before this, John assures his "beloved" readers
that this commandment to love God and trustingly obey Him (hand Him our lives
in whatever condition they are in), while it is a word that has been from the
beginning, is also new, because it "is true in him and in us". God
has done something in Christ, to work in us a share of what is true in Him.
This is no longer external to us--we do and can truly abide in Christ.
So now John gets back to the issue of fellowship and darkness. John is helping
his readers to uncover more of what it means to live in God's light instead
of the darkness. John is saying that when we abide in Christ, there is an effect
on our relationships with others. Our fellowship with God is intimately connected
with how we view others. Now why is that? Well, who are we abiding in? Christ.
And He is the first one who truly loves God and His brothers--us! In Him, God
and humanity are brought together. Jesus loves His heavenly Father and He loves
us, His sisters and brothers. Jesus sees and knows and loves us--sees us clearly
in our sin and darkness and loves us and rescues us to live in His life and
light and to be made more and more like Him and like the sisters and brothers
we were created to be.
In hating our brother, we fail to recognize that we are the same--both able
to live and be redeemed and transformed only by the gracious action of God.
To love our brother is to see in him/her the same good news that Jesus can
break through the darkness with His light. This doesn't mean that there aren't
times when we struggle with great anger and hate toward others. And it doesn't
mean that we have to be absolute best buddies with everyone we meet. It goes
beyond feelings. To hate our brother is to reject him, to fail to see God's
love and commitment to that person, and to fail to hope for them to be filled
with God's life just as we hope for that for ourselves. This does mean, though,
that when we do hate someone else we have a clue that, at the time, we are
no longer walking in the light and able to receive fellowship from God. Only
the one who truly loves both God and brother can rescue us. Only Jesus, as
we turn over our hate, can dissolve it. Really, the only way to be a sister
to others is to recognize that Jesus is first a brother to them. We participate
in Christ's brothering of others (and of course in His brothering of us!).
John says in v. 10 that when we abide in the light, "there is no cause
for stumbling" but (in v. 11) that when we are in the darkness we do not
know where we are going because darkness blinds our eyes. When we hate another,
we cannot see that person clearly. When we hate even ourselves we cannot see
clearly. And when we proceed to relate to another then out of hate, we proceed
blindly. Here is a wonderful reason to turn our troubled relationships over
to God. We cannot possibly move forward when we are looking at a distorted
picture of reality. I have thought of this as I have listened to the news of
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hate blinds. We come to see the "enemy" as
a thing, a "cut-out" of a real human being and there is no way forward.
We need to recognize who we truly are--broken creatures all in great need of
being made able to receive the wonderful life God desires to pour out on us.
And what a great freedom--to turn our relationships over to the one who will
never deceive us!
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