Dispatch One Hundred Forty-Three

Posted: April 22, 2015 in Thirty-Fourth Bundle
Tags: , , , , ,

1 JOHN 3:16-24

16 We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 17 How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?

18 Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.19 And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him 20 whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; 22 and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.

23 And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.

Now we can see that believing in the name of Jesus Christ and loving one another are really two ways of saying the same thing. In other words, Christians believe that “Jesus” names the gracious outreach of God in the form of a love that brings us to the heart of the divine Mystery itself. In naming the core we name the center around which all the other qualities and facets of God are coordinated and unified.

For that reason, Peter had been bold (but not narrow-minded!) enough to claim that there is “no other name” by which we are saved. “Jesus,” then, names not only the unique revelation of unconditional love profoundly demonstrated on the cross, but by association every form of grace, even grace itself. Importantly, such belief is not so much dogmatic as it is practical: we show we “believe in Jesus” by loving as he loved. It’s not a question of which religion is true, but how love was and is made real.

That’s why, despite the tendency in so many churches and traditions toward some type of gnosticism where correct doctrine is necessary to salvation, the authentic New Testament view is that, not the purity of our doctrine (“word and speech”) but the integrity of our love (“truth and action”) is the determining factor. And the Spirit that indwells the one who truly loves is, according to the core Christian experience (resurrection), none other than the spirit of Jesus. Our acts of love thus become present-day appearances of the risen Christ and fresh incarnations of divine grace.

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