So much tragedy in one weekend, it’s hard to know what to think of it all. First. A young singer viciously murdered while signing autographs and meeting people. Then a terror attack in a gay bar, a young man killing 50 people because apparently, to him, they were “those people”, people who were different than him and living in a way he did not approve of.
So now, many may want to use this to justify their own definition of “those people” – our own version of us vs them. If we are following Christ, we don’t get to participate in this. In a world filled with darkness, we are to be the light. If we look at the tragedies of this weekend in terms of a comparison of religion vs religion, or attempting to place blame on groups of people we can identify as different from us, so therefore this could never happen to us or someone like me would never do that…the we can’t be the light because we are in darkness ourselves. If we do this, we are still in our own personal darkness, our own dark of night if you will. If we are still in our own nighttime, how will we know the sun is beginning to rise? If we can begin to look at any other person and see them as our own brother or sister, we have come to our own sunrise. We are transitioning from night to daylight. When we come to our own sunrise, we can then be the light in someone else’s darkness.
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. Remember John Chapter 1? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” John 1:1-2 ESV. The old commandment for those reading this, I think, would have been our Old Testament, their bibles which they’d been reading their whole lives. That is the word they had heard, and Christ had been there, in it, from the beginning.
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. Jesus is the true light. If we live for Him and through Him, we already have His light shining within us.
Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. My key verse of the day. Maybe I’ll claim this as a life verse. I certainly feel too much anger a hatred at different times to claim I’m living this way now, but in my quest for progress not perfection, this should be what I strive for. Think about the night club shooter from Saturday night. Think about religious terrorists from the beginning. Think about Saul of Tarsus before he became Paul, really long before he became St. Paul. These people always claim and believe they have the light of God on their side, yet they commit heinous acts of hate against others with the image of God upon them. They are still in darkness.
Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. Back to Saul of Tarsus aka Saint Paul. We think Pauls conversion occurred on the Damascus Road when he encountered the risen Christ. That is not exactly true. It was where it began, but it really occurred three days later. “So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus.” Acts 9:17-19 ESV. Ananias, a man who three days earlier would have been the target of Saul, had just called him brother, and the scales fell from his eyes. Saul had just transition from his own spiritual night into daylight – he now saw his own “those people” – followers of Christ – as is brothers. He had just regained his sight.
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. If we stay in hate and anger, we will remain in our own spiritual darkness. Like Saul of Tarsus, we need to be able to see all people as our brothers and sisters – even people from groups we might disagree with. When we can see these people (all people) as our brothers, we will have come to the light.
“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. 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.”
1 John 2:7-11 ESV