3 January 2024 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide

And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” (1 John 3:23-24; all scripture quoted is from the Authorized King James Bible)

In the reading of the lectionary text for today (1 John 3:13-24), the commandment to love one another is re-emphasized by St. John – the Apostle of Love. He cradles the requirement in terms of ‘loving the brethren’ which reveals a distinction in the manner of love we should demonstrate to our fellow Christian and the world at large. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” v14. Here, assuredly, John is referring to those to whom we may refer as legitimately brothers in the faith, the Church.

One hundred and fifty-two years ago, the famous American poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, wrote an engaging hymn entitled, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, extolling the virtue of love toward all mankind as brothers upon the earth. His poem makes no distinction as to degree or kind of brotherhood, and that reveals, to me, a great shortcoming. For the Christian believer, all mankind are not brothers in the sense of familial identity. Only a fellow Christian can be accounted a true brother in the Christian sense.

While it is true that God is Father of all living, He is such a Father only in the limited sense as Maker of all living. There is a distinction between the Christian family and the families that belong to the world alone.

There are only two families on earth – the elect of God, and the families who, through either rejection or lack of sincere faith, have answered the call to the Mercy Seat oof Christ.  I do not believe God commands us to love in the same measure those who hate Him and His moral suasion codified in His Law. Jesus said to His brethren, when they suggested He face the risk of going up to the feast in Jerusalem, “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” (John 7:7)  The Christian is commanded to exercise a special love for the brethren, but a general spirit of love toward the lost. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 John 2:15-17)

Those of unbelief, especially those who have knowingly rejected Christ, are of the world and not of the ‘brethren’ described by John; but even those who have not known Christ deserve our love in the possibility of conversion. Such egregious and willful sin as we recently witnessed from Hamas in Israel is an offense to God and should be to us. The modern adage of ‘love the sinner but hate the sin’ is a sterile expression beyond the possibility of any to practice toward such murderous miscreants. Their behavior is an expression of open rebellion to God and His laws and are hateful toward our Father in Heaven. As Jehu counseled Jehoshaphat, “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.”

So, what are the boundaries of love expected of the Christian? Are we not commanded to love our enemies? Certainly, we are so commanded; however, we are not commanded to love the enemies of God. The Word of God must be preached to all the world, but that Word is the divider between the elect and the rebellious sinner. It is a two-edged sword that cuts two ways – the first, to convict of sin and to restore; the second, to condemn of sin.

The general love of God is spread abroad in His Creation, and we should all love the creatures of His making including the unsaved; but to love those whose actions demonstrate a merciless hatred of God are not to receive our love in the same manner and means of our love for the Brethren. Love requires a willingness to comfort and assist, but we are not able to comfort and assist those whose actions defy God openly and with malicious intent.

In the end, the wrath of God shall be released upon all who have lived in defiance of His Law and Will. When our Lord returns at the last sound of the Trumpet, He will execute harsh judgment against all who have lived a life of sin and rejection of the Father’s only Begotten Son, Jesus. It will be profitable to us if we have not been complicit in those sins. Even a murderer may repent and turn from His wicked ways, but those whose consciences are seared as with a hot iron remain reprobates before the eyes of a Just and loving Father.

If God has given us that Spirit, we shall love all that God loves, but disdain those things which He hates.

By |2024-01-04T15:47:07+00:00January 4th, 2024|Blog|Comments Off on BY THE SPIRIT WHICH HE HATH GIVEN US

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