Wednesday

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” (v. 7)

1 John 4:7-10 Wednesday 8 January 2014


Background

The lectionary leaves out one key verse: "By this you know theSpirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ hascome in the flesh is from God…" (v. 2). This letter was written toa community of believers, probably Gentiles (non Jews), to helpthem to distinguish between false teaching ('spirits') and true. Itwas probably written between 95 and 110 years after the birth ofChrist, when the heresy of Docetism was being taught.

Docetism was an error about the nature of Christ. It originatedin a dualistic attitude to spirit and matter and argued that Godwas spirit and therefore could not be matter. Therefore, sinceJesus Christ was God he could not also have been man. Docetistsargued that Jesus onlyappearedto be a human; he was God, but lookedlike a human being and therefore didn't really suffer. One of ourbest-loved Christmas carols is docetic! "Away in a manger" says"the little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes". Anybody who has everhad a real human baby will know that this is not normal behaviour!If Jesus was fully human, then he must have screamed until he wasblue in the face! And the writer of this letter insists that he wasfully human! And true teachers can be identified by this - theyaffirm the humanity of Christ.

Today's passage could also be seen as foundational for theMethodist doctrine of prevenient grace. The meaning of love is notthe love that we have for God, but the love that God has for us.Love is God's initiative!

I once heard a debate about the source of human identity. Oneperson argued that our identity is the sum of what we do in lovefor others. The other, a very wise person, argued that our identityis the product of God's gift of love for us. This is gospel: we arewho we are because God loves us.


To Ponder

  • "…everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." Do you knowanybody who is not a Christian, but 'knows God'? How is thisrevealed in their lives?
  • In what ways and from what sources do you know yourself to beloved by God?


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