Friday, July 17, 2009

I John 2:7-11 Love- Human and Divine

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

7/17/09- I John 2:7- 11
7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 9 Those who claim to be in the light but hate a fellow believer are still in the darkness. 10 Those who love their fellow believers live in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But those who hate a fellow believer are in the darkness and walk around in the darkness; they do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
Calvin abridged: 2:7- This is more explanation about the idea that loving God means keeping His commandments. John reminds us that he taught nothing about love except what had been heard by the faithful from the beginning and had been used so much in the past it had become old. There are three reasons for this: First, novelty is disliked; Second, we don’t do things we do not like; Third, when we believe a doctrine we don’t want anything changed about it. Some explain this idea of “old commandment” differently. They say that Christ is not saying anything differently than what is in the Old Testament. This is true. But I think that he means that these commands were the first elements of the gospel, that they had been taught this way from the beginning, and that they should not think such commandments that they had the opportunity to keep long ago should surprise them. He calls it old not because it was taught many years ago to our ancestors, but because it had been taught them on their new entrance to the faith. This applied to them because it came from Christ himself. “the word which you have heard from the beginning is the old commandment”- the gospel is not new, but it has come from God and is eternal truth- as if God said, “You should not measure the antiquity of the gospel by time because in it is the eternal will of God. Something is only old and deserves faith and reverence when it has its origins in God. The fictions of humans cannot gain so much authority as to overrule the truth of God. 2:8- “A new commandment”- new implies that God renews it daily by suggesting it, so that the faithful may practice it through their whole life for nothing more excellent can be searched for by them. The things which children learn are replaced by what is higher and solid. Love for brothers and sisters is not something that grows old with time, but it is perpetually in force, so that its requirements do not fade with time.
People are naturally curious and always seek something new, having grown weary of the truth, and gaping for new mysteries. It is a steady constant course that counts as true, and love is this way.
“Which is true”- the whole truth of Christ is found in the union of human love. Truth means completion or a perfect state. The church’s union with Christ is also a true state in which the head is joined to the body. If the church had this continual love it would really be united to Christ and have this state of perfection.
“Because the darkness is past”- this means as soon as Christ brings light we will have the full brightness of his knowledge. Not that everyone becomes wise on the first day that they believe (Phil. 3:12- Paul still is striving); but that the knowledge of Christ alone is good enough to eliminate the darkness. So daily progress is important for us. The faith of everyone has its dawn before it reaches its noon day sun. The knowledge of the Gospel is the true light, when Christ the sun or righteousness shines.
2:9- He that says he is in the light but hates his brother is in the darkness now. He concludes that all are bline and walk in darkness who are strangers to love. The love of God and of others are so connected together that they cannot be separated. In the third chapter John says we falsely boast of love for God unless we love our neighbor; But he now takes love to our brothers and sisters as a testimony to prove that we love God. Love refers to both God and people. The whole perfection of life consists in the love of God. Paul teaches that all of the law Is fulfilled when we love our neighbor (Rom. 13:8). It remains certain that love is the rule of life. We should be wary of this because everyone chooses almost anything else than this one commandment of God. “There is no stumbling”- The one who acts in love will never stumble.
“But he that hates his brother” No matter how things may look, there is nothing but sinfulness when love is absent (cf. I Cor. 13). But most of the world is dazzled by all sorts of masks or disguises. Thus fictitious sanctity dazzles the eyes of almost all people, while love is neglected or at least driven into the farthest corner.

Calvin’s great emphases came out in this passage. He emphasizes love for God, love for neighbor and union with Christ. The three interconnect and elicit each other. The more we love our neighbor the closer we get to God, and the more we love God the closer we get to our neighbor. Union with Christ brings us into union with others. Perhaps Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas a Kempis show their influence on Calvin here. Our day shows a deep longing for human love, but not in the purest sense. So many in our day have tried to substitute human sexuality outside of marriage for human love, and it ends up breaking them instead of uniting and fulfilling them. Human sexuality is a strong motive (as Freud would attest), but it is only a part of human love, not the essence of it. I would contend that human love given the chance is a stronger, more lasting, though slow-burning motive than even sexuality. Those who cohabit are four times more likely to have an affair than those who commit to marriage, and fifteen times more likely to break up in the first five years. Commitment and love go together like light and love. But the real test is not the result from an earthly standpoint. All our human relationships should ideally be within God’s will. When they are holy and loving there is a double union to hold us together. The way we love other people is not separated from the way we love God. One love affects the other love.

Prayer: May your love O God constrain us to love our neighbor. May our union with you unite us to your church and to others.

No comments:

Post a Comment