All we need is
faith and love!
For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
We were looking through the closet in our office at home â€“ a closet that has been changed into a set of storage shelves. We were looking for bags and ribbon for our basket social baskets â€“ ribbons found, no bags. A trip to Michaelâ€™s and all set.
While looking through the closet I came across a lovely table runner from Poland. It is intricately woven together. That is what today is all about.
The community to whom First John was written was facing a crisis. Former members were denying that Jesus was Godâ€™s flesh and blood Son, fully human and fully God. Like many churches facing doctrinal conflict, the community was confused, afraid, and unsure of what to do. Who should they believe? How could they know what was true, and what was not? How should they react? Their closely woven life of faith and love was coming undone.
Johnâ€™s response in a lesson to the community was both simple and confident: You know who you are â€“ the faithful. You know whose you are â€“ you are Godâ€™s. You know what you have been told from the beginning â€“ love God, love the brethren, and keep Godâ€™s commandments. Godâ€™s own Spirit is with us to show us the way forward. Thereâ€™s no need for confusion, anxiety, or fear. Focus on living your faith woven together in unity and love.
John echoes Jesusâ€™ conversation with his disciples on the night before his death: â€œThey who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them;â€ and â€œThis is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved youâ€
Loving God, loving Godâ€™s children, and keeping Godâ€™s commandments are all an inseparable part of our life in Christ. They are links in the chain of faith. We live in an interwoven reality that is the Church of God â€“ the basic principles of Christianity. Like that beautiful table runner, every thread is linked together into something beautiful; something that gives joy and that makes love strong and real.
In todayâ€™s Gospel we have all the markers from the First John community. Perhaps the first display of fear and anxiety in the Christian community. Jesus settled the Apostles crises quickly. Yet the Apostle Thomas was missing. He was the one thread missing. He exhibits some aggressive non-belief. His thread was not just unraveled, but frayed and nearly broken. We get that way. The comfort is that Jesus returns for him as He returns for us â€“ Jesus wonâ€™t let us stay unraveled. Easter is to live restored, interwoven, and unbroken.