May 2021 Column for Trinity Lutheran, Nampa Epistle
Dear Friends in Christ,
This Easter Season we are making our way through the letter of First John. The letter contains such iconic lines as these: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleans us from all unrighteousness” (1:8-9), “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action” (3:18), “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love” (4:7-8). The letter is all about connecting our faith in God with our actual lives. Is that not what we are always trying to do as followers of Jesus, as members of the Body of Christ? Of course, what this looks like changes and adapts to each new generation of disciples, our own included. And other New Testament writers talk about how each one of us is equipped uniquely and has our own calling. But there are some basics to which we all are called to subscribe. Love is at the core of who God is. Likewise, love must guide the life of those who follow Jesus, those who live in the light of God. Who precisely is this love to be directed towards? In Mark 12:29-31 Jesus answered a scribe’s question about the greatest commandment. I interpret Jesus’ answer to mean that I am to love God, my neighbor, and myself. Depending on how we grew up, our current circumstances, what is going on in the world, we might have trouble with one or more of those different loves, but all three are important. We will not always love or put our love into actions as we should. The first quote above from First John is a confession, telling the truth about when we are not faithful and not loving. Confession too, is part of love. It tells our neighbor that we know we have fallen short, and we see it. Confession is the first step in real reconciliation. Confession is also part of reconciling with God. Confession and forgiveness, action, and love are all related and they are all woven throughout this beautiful letter from the early church. Lots of things in life change but some things remain the same. I am glad to be following Jesus alongside you all this Easter Season.