It’s not that complicated!
One of the things that frustrates me the most about how many Christians approach interpretation of the Bible is how we over-complicate the message. We pull soundbite-sized passages from various places and build entire theologies and denominations around them. The result is that we separate different parts of the Body of Christ from each other, and that’s not the way it was intended to be.
And when I hear John’s heart in this passage, I hear him pleading, “Hey church! Don’t over-complicate this!”
This idea that we’ve been talking about with having the Light within us is not only a simple message, but it’s also not a new one. Or is it?
The first thing we need to understand is that to have the Light, all we need to do is have Love for our brother and sister. That’s easy when I think about all the hipsters at church who I like to hang out with.But what about that guy who just doesn’t know how to have a conversation with a dude like me, leaving us with lots of awkward moments checking the time on my phone and pretending to look around for that ‘other important conversation’ that I need to have?
This Love is something that I need to have for ALL of my brothers and sisters!
In order to help me remember that, I only need to think about how Jesus dealt with my social inadequacies when I stood there staring at Him not knowing what to say. Regardless of my shortcomings, He loved me like I was the only one in the on His mind.
And that’s it… it all about having the kind of Love for people that He’s always shown us. If we have that Love for each other in our hearts, then (and only then) do we have the Light within us.
The alternative? Well… I’m just going to focus on not being there. Being in the absence of Light doesn’t seem like a place I want to be.
The entire message of Christ is wrapped up in this single concept of Loving each other.
And the arrival of the Messiah comes with this new revelation of Love. Forget the old commandments… after all, they’re meaningless, right? Maybe not…
That’s the other thing John seems to be saying here. While this may be a newer, simpler revelation, it’s not an old message. It’s the message that comes from the very beginning. All throughout the Old Testament we see the narratives of people who have poured themselves out for God and for each other. We see passage like Micah 6:6-8 where God seems to be saying, “I don’t care about your following of the religious practices, I care about people. I care about you.”
It’s always been about Love.
Even when Jesus comes and shows us what it looks like in a whole new way, it’s the same message that God has shared since the beginning. It’s a new message, but it’s an old message. It’s the same message… and it’s not that complicated.