1 John 2:7-11
“Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.”
The law of love is old. It was foundational to the world that God created and the kingdom he established on earth. However, the disobedience of Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, man became separated from God and the law of love was broken. Man’s love became distorted, and he loved the wrong things. Love became self-oriented. Where there was light, now there was darkness. Authentic love was lost.
Jesus re-established the kingdom of God, and with it re-established authentic love. Jesus brought back love as God designed it. The “new commandment of love” is actually the return and restoration of the original love which was lost at the Fall. This is what John means when he says “the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.”
There is a battle between the two different loves. On one side is authentic love that is clarified by the light of God’s word; on the other side is counterfeit love that is distorted by the darkness of the world. That is the battle: love directed by darkness versus love directed by light.
1 John 2:10-11
“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
John states that whoever claims to believe in Jesus but does not love his brother is a person who is still in the darkness. They might claim to be in the light, but the absence of love reveals they have embraced a counterfeit. Where the true light of Christ shines, there is authentic love.
John says to the people who are directed by hate: you are “in the darkness” and you “walk in darkness” and “don’t know where you are going” and “the darkness has blinded your eyes.” Tragically, this is evident in the conflicts throughout history. And not just the many wars that have been waged between nations or the political battles that have been fought between opposing factions, but also the uncountable interpersonal conflicts that have been fought between people. Marriages destroyed, families broken, friendships ruined, churches divided, businesses damaged, partnerships dissolved, teams torn apart, nations in conflict … because people were directed by hate rather than love.
In the weeks ahead we are going to dive deeper into the true nature of love and the true nature of its darkness counterpart, hate. Those words — love and hate — are tossed about frequently and glibly, but in God’s kingdom they have precise meanings. In the kingdom of God, authentic love is a strong and powerful virtue that is directed by great wisdom. It is not a sentiment or mere emotion. In fact, it is authentic love that motivates people to do very difficult and uncomfortable things that don’t “feel” like love to a self-centered recipient.
The counterfeit version of love preys on people’s emotions and sentiments and selfishness. It is indulgent and manipulative and undiscerning. It pursues “feel good” and avoids “do good.” And when people who walk in darkness don’t get what they want, their “love” quickly turns to hate, which means they never actually possessed authentic love. This is what John means when he says: “But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
May we walk in the true light and love of Christ every day.