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The Eighth Sunday After Pentecost –
Scripture Reading: 1 John 3:10-24
10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.
More on Love and Hatred
11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[a] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask,because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
- 1 John 3:13 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in verse 16.
Sermon: “Callous to Malice”
Let’s watch what happened to criminal lawyer Marc Daniels when he took hisdaughter Isabella to a May 30 recital at the In Motion Dance School in Hamilton, Bermuda.
This clip has gone viral. I hope people take to heart what Daniels teaches us about supportive parenting.
Notice, first, he tried a couple of ways to help Isabella succeed. First, he stood offstage, giving her the chance to calm down on her own.
When that didn’t work, he stayed on stage with her, showing his support and his love, leading by example.
Daniels was willing to sacrifice a bit of his dignity for the sake of his child. God, the
Elder in First John tells us, came to this stage, our earthly existence, and led by example in Jesus Christ, God’s Son.
Not only did God sacrifice Jesus’ dignity, God gave up Jesus’ very life.
We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister inneed and yet refuses help?
Notice what the Elder does. He moves the idea of laying down one’s life for another from up in the theological clouds and plops it with a jarring thud right here at our feet.
It is far easier to love in theory than in fact. It’s easier to love those far away, whom we don’t know, than to love those close at hand, friends, family, or strangers alike.
Yet that’s just what the Elder calls us to do, sharing the love of Christ in everyday acts of kindness, some large, many more small.
✓ Don’t write the angry Internet comment you were thinking of posting.
✓ When everyone else is gossiping about someone, be the one to butt in and say something nice about that person.
✓ Cook a meal or do a load of laundry for someone who’s just had a baby or is going through a tough time.
✓ Put your phone away.
✓ Every time you buy a new piece of clothing, donate an old one.
✓ Don’t interrupt when someone else is speaking. Try it—it’s a lot harder than you think.
✓ Email or write a teacher who made a difference in your life.
✓ Leave your server the biggest tip you can afford.
✓ Let the person behind you at the supermarket checkout with one or two items go ahead of you.
✓ Write someone a letter—a real letter, on paper. Then mail it!
✓ If you spill your soda all over the counter at the Quick Stop here in town, clean up your mess.
✓ Listen; sympathize; cut people some slack.
✓ Adopt a rescue pet, or drop off dog or cat food at an animal shelter.
✓ Before you drift off to sleep at night, think of three things that you’re grateful for.
The Elder says that the love of God isn’t present in anyone without compassion.
Something—or someone—else feels that spiritual vacuum.
The children of God and the children of the devil are revealed in this way: all who don’t do what is right aren’t from God, nor are those who don’t love their brothers and their sisters.
In fact, the Elder says,
Whoever doesn’t love, abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you knowthat murderers don’t have eternal life abiding in them.
The person who hates another wants to deprive that person of life, sharing the verynature of the devil. Someone like that isn’t a child of God.
People can die spiritually long before their physical body ever does. The Elder says thatdeath can in fact become a way of life. “Whoever doesn’t love, abides in death.”
We all remember last August’s unrest in Charlottesville, as well as the act of violence that took the life of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, one of those protesting the message of hate groups like American Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.
Those events were back in the news at the end of June, when a federal jury in Washington charged James Fields with thirty hate crime charges as well as with first-degree murder.
Fields drove from his home in Ohio to attend the “Unite the Right” rally at Emancipation Park in Charlottesville.
After Charlottesville authorities declared the rally an “unlawful assembly” and dispersed the crowd, Fields drove to where the counter demonstration was going on, at Fourth Street in downtown Charlottesville.
Fields slowly backed his car to the top of a hill, and then, the indictment says, “rapidlyaccelerated, ran through a stop sign and across a raise pedestrian mall, and drove directly into the crowd, striking numerous individuals, killing Heather Heyer, and injuring many others.”
The indictment goes on to say that, prior to the attack, Fields’ own social media accounts “espoused violence against African-Americans, Jewish people, and members of other racial, ethnic, and religious groups he perceived to be nonwhite.”
Fields freely shared his racist attitude with friends and associates. When a family member texted Fields on his way to Virginia and told him to be careful, Fields texted back,“We’re not the ones who need to be careful,” and attached a picture of Adolf Hitler to the text.
Let no one doubt that hate kills.
On April 12, 1999, someone who experienced Hitler’s horror first hand, author, theologian, and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, gave a speech at the White House. He spoketo what he called “The Perils of Indifference.”
Wiesel began with a list of twentieth century acts of violence and added, “So muchviolence; so much indifference.”
He then said this.
We cannot be callous to malice, indifferent to hatred and the death it brings on the world in ways both large and small.
How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
One of Heather Heyer’s friends, Marissa Blair, spoke to how Heather’s death changedher life.
“We thought, ‘What would Heather do?’ Heather would go harder. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to preach love. We’re going to preach equality. Heather’s death won’t be in vain.”
Christ’s death wasn’t in vain, either. Let’s prove it by how we treat our brothers andour sisters—loving, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.