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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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