Today’s Reading: 1 John 3:13-18
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. John is writing to the churches in Macedonia, which is modern-day Turkey. He had spent the greater part of his ministry up near Ephesus, preaching and teaching the Gospel of a crucified Christ. It was the Gospel that landed him on Patmos. Eighteen months later, once he had made his way back to Ephesus, he saw the congregations that he had once held so dear, now thrown into heresy and unbelief. It doesn’t take long for the sinner to screw things up. And we are so adept at screwing things up that we even pull God’s Word into the equation and use Him to justify our actions.
One of the most deadly heresies that was circling the fledgling congregations was the thought that good works for our neighbor weren’t important. Now as good Lutherans we like to say that good works aren’t necessary, but that’s not true: They just aren’t necessary for salvation. But they are necessary, because even if God doesn’t need them, your neighbor certainly does.
And so, a lot of what you hear in 1 John is a proclamation of who you are. John isn’t so much telling you what you should do, but instead he is telling you who Christ has made you to be in Him. “By this we know love, that He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” Christ has made us to be sacrificial servants for others because that is exactly who He is for us. One cannot help but be in Christ and love one’s neighbor, not just in word or talk, but in deed and truth.
Love looks like something. Love serves. Love cares for the other. Love never looks inward, but always looks to the neighbor. Love looks like Christ, and so should we, not to garner salvation or to make God smile upon us, but so that our neighbors might be provided and cared for, and that they might be loved. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
O grant that nothing in my soul May dwell, but Thy pure love alone; Oh, may Thy love possess me whole, My joy, my treasure, and my crown! All coldness from my heart remove; My ev’ry act, word, thought be love. (“Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me” LSB 683, st.2)
-Rev. Eli Lietzau is pastor of Wheat Ridge Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wheat Ridge, CO.
Audio Reflections speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Come on an adventure with author Eric Eichinger as he unpacks the saga of Jesus’ Hero Journey. You’ll see how aspects of this journey are seen in popular stories, and how God used Jesus to create the most action-packed one with a real Savior for all. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.