Tuesday, April 6, 2010

“Love Within the Community” International Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending April 11, 2010

Purpose: To remember that we are called to be a community of love and light

Scripture Text: 1 John 2: 9-11, l John 2:15-17 (NRSV)

1 John 2:9-11
(9)Whoever says, ‘I am in the light’, while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. (10)Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. (11)But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.

l John 2: 5-17
(15) Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; (16)for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. (17)And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

This week we look at another writing from John, although some modern day scholars doubt that John the Disciple was the writer of this book or for that matter even the Gospel bearing his name. I find the words of John Wesley in his notes to hold more validity and I quote “The great similitude, or rather sameness, both of spirit and expression, which runs through St. John's Gospel and all his epistles, is a clear evidence of their being written by the same person.” Wesley believes John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, to be that person.

I think there is a bridge between last week’s text and this week’s text that also points to this. Last week in verse 22b Jesus says these words to His Disciples: “I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” That is the assurance John expresses in today's lesson. John was a witness to the crucifixion, and he was also a witness to Jesus’ resurrection and transformation. He is speaking with authority, as to what it is to be a Christian.

One of my mentors, Dr. Loyal R. Ringenberg, wrote a small book on 1 John entitled “Who is a Christian.” In that small book Dr. Ringenberg lists 48 thesis from 1 John that explain, “Who is a Christian.” I will list just those taken from the 4 verses of today's lesson
  1. A Christian is a person who does not hate his brother.  
  2. A Christian is a person who loves his brother. 
  3. A Christian is a person who does not love the world. 
  4. A Christian is a person who does the will of God. 
  5. A Christian is a person who will abide forever. 
These are just five of forty-eight things that set Christians apart from the world.

As John was writing this letter, or as some call it a “Tract” he was still with many of those that received it. John was trying to explain the difference between real Christians and those that were making a claim of being Christian, but were really following false teachers, such as the agnostics.

In our world today we still have those false teachers that claim to be followers of Christ but their actions say otherwise. Take for instance the recent arrest of those in Michigan that planned to kill a police officer and then planned on killing even more at the funeral. When they are put to the test of 1 John, it is easy to see Christ does not abide in them, but rather the opposite is true. Certainly verse 9 speaks of that -“Whoever says, “I am in the light” while hating a brother or sister, is still in darkness.” Verse 15 says, “Christians do not love the world or the things in the world.

Christians love people and use things, the world uses people and loves things. The temptation for all of us is be seduced by the “things” of this world. We accumulate “things” and then have to enlarge our homes or rent extra space to put “things”. All that God created was good, but that does not necessarily apply to all that man makes, we are called to love God's creation, but we are also called to reject the “things” that the world considers necessary “things” for happiness. Tiger Woods fulfilled his “desires of the flesh and the desire of his eye and the pride of riches” yet he said himself he was not happy, he was miserable deceiving, plotting, and lying to those that really loved him. He had everything the world offers, yet he lacked one thing. Knowing the eternal God and understanding how much he loves us, is far more valuable than all the things that Tiger Woods or anyone else could ever posses.

What controls your life, your love for things, or your love for others; Your love for light, or abiding in darkness? How does your Christianity hold up when compared to the Book of 1 John?

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