2 Sa 5-7; 1 Jn 3; Psalm 40
In this next chapter of John’s first epistle – almost every verse commands us to sit in silence before it – to hear deep within ourselves this Word of life.
Although the chapter and verse divisions as we know are not original – the opening verse of what is such a powerful chapter is well selected as the opening verse. ‘See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God’.
We tend to think of the love of God in terms of the Crucifixion of Jesus, and it is right that we do – but here we see the Love of God expressed through the Resurrection of Jesus, that first fruit of the new Life, the Divine Life that now dwells in us through faith. ‘God’s seed abides in them’, says John later on . . . in verse 9 where we read that those who ‘have been born of God do not sin’
Apart from the Life of God in us, the Life of the Vine who abides in us, this makes no sense. We are left thinking we must be children of the devil, for we wrestle with sin. Yet the New Life in us needs to grow. Moment by moment our hearts and minds are turned more and more towards Our Father in heaven, the one who has given us new birth, as St Peter reminded us. When our hearts are thus turned, when we beging not only to hear but to truly believe that we are children of God, so then we find that we turn away from sin.
This then is carried on into action – this life bears life. Again John’s words strike deep into one who is not anchored in their new identity in Christ, that Life which is hid with Christ in God. ‘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?’ It is the plainest of truths. We stand before it, and only unflinchingly if we know ourselves to be GOd’s children and that our hearts are not only turned away from those things which we ought not to do, but also towards those which as children of God is only natural.
This turning of course we call repentance. It is repentance that faces us to God that we might receive his life. And as the forerunner says, the fruit of repentance is clear. We begin to live in the generosity of our heavenly parent. Our brother has no coat – we have two – we give him one. Our brother has no food, we have enough for two. We feed him.
The Life that is in us is evidenced in the good works he prepared for us to do in advance. Faith is not a mental contract that keeps us from God’s wrath, rather it is a new life which is revealed to be the life of God in us in the simplest and yet seemingly for so many of us, so demanding ways. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked etc. etc. For this is what our Father does, and we bear his likeness.