Sunday, November 15, 2015

St. John the Apostle on Love for God and our Neighbor

Paraphrased excerpts from the First Letter of St. John the Apostle 

Beloved, I am not writing to you about a new commandment, but about an old commandment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have already heard. Yet I am writing you about a new commandment, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 

He who says he walks in the light yet hates his neighbor is actually walking in the darkness. He who loves his neighbor walks in the light, and in it there is no cause for stumbling. But he who hates his neighbor is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, the love of God is not in him. For 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 God but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.
See what love God has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are! The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not do what is right is not of God, nor he who does not love his neighbor.
For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, and not be like Cain who was of the evil one and murdered his brother Abel. And why did Cain murder Abel? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 
Do not wonder, my children, why the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love one another. He who does not love remains in death. Any one who hates his neighbor is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 
But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his neighbor in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.
And this is God's commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who keep his commandments abide in him, and he in them.
Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to atone for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
So we have come to know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and the person who lives in love does in fact live in God, and God does in fact live in him. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because he first loved us. 
If any one says, “I love God,” and hates his neighbor, he is a liar; for he who does not love his neighbor whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his neighbor.
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

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