Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 19; 150, Isaiah 62:6-12, 1 John 2:3-11, John 8:12-19
In his first epistle, John tells us any believer who hates another believer is no believer at all. We can claim to walk in the light of Christ, but if we hate a brother or sister we are still in the darkness. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” True commitment to Christ leaves us unwilling to hate our fellow believers, no matter how strongly we may disagree with them (and we can disagree plenty).
It’s possible to say we’re following Christ, and maybe to believe that, without it actually being true. Let’s think of the light of Christ like a bonfire on the beach. We can remain within its direct light where we can feel its heat, see clearly by it, and easily reach those who would share it with us. Or we can dispassionately observe it from a little further down the beach or farther out at sea. From a distance, we see the bonfire and believe it exists; we can study it through a telescope to describe it and theorize about it and analyze it; maybe we use it as a rough guide to navigate … but it has no real impact on our lives. Even if we can hear the songs and laughter of those gathered around the bonfire, and smell the food being roasted on it, we don’t actually share the light, warmth, and proximity they do.
Successfully staying within the bonfire’s influence requires cooperation among those gathered. For example, we can all agree not to throw gasoline on it, but we may disagree on what species of wood is most fragrant. Some of us may be choking on smoke while others breathe easily (and obliviously), but the wind will always change. We may argue and develop resentments over these differences, but it’s not our business to push people out or storm off ourselves. Christ tends this fire; he will make sure all who stay within its glow are cared for.
Comfort: When you walk in the light, hate burns away.
Challenge: Try thinking of the light as a communal gathering, not a solo walk.
Prayer: God of light and love, I will seek to follow in Christ’s footsteps. Amen.
Discussion: Sometimes we throw something on a bonfire and experience unintended and unfortunate consequences. Have you ever unintentionally caused strife in your faith community?
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