In today’s lesson from the First Epistle of John we hear these words: “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 in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” When I read and reread this passage I was reminded of Good Friday. On that day, we read the Passion of Jesus according to the Gospel of John, and in that gospel there is an exchange between Pilate and Jesus, where Pilate asks, “What is truth”? I have always been quite moved by Pilate’s question, because I think at some level Pilate knows the truth. He presents Jesus to the people saying “here is the man”, and again, he has the charges against Jesus placed on the cross, saying “King of the Jews”, and insists that that is what needs to be said about Jesus. In his own twisted way, I think Pilate was realizing and perhaps even proclaiming something of gospel message. There was something about Jesus that prompted Pilate to investigate truth.
But we know that Pilate didn’t get it quite right, because he had Jesus crucified. Love and truth, the two guiding principles of the Kingdom of God, were and continue to be present in the man who is also God, Jesus of Nazareth.
“Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” Words are nice. Most of us have lots of words. Some of us like my son have very few words. And there are times as a parent, as a mom, I would love to hear my son say “I love you”, I have more convincing evidence of love; things like hugs, and laughter, that are concrete actions that convey the message clearly and without doubt. And that, is what you and I are being asked to do; it is what our Presiding Bishop has been teaching, that when Jesus asks us to love, we are to love in truth, in Jesus as his disciples, in all that we DO, not just what we say. When we think of Jesus, what do we think of most of the time? Sure, we think about things that he said, but the most important things about his story, about our story, is what he did.
And what did he do? He told everyone about God the Father. He fed the hungry. He healed the sick. He noticed and valued those who no one else did. He gave people a sense of hope. He let them know that they were loved by God. He loved them. Then he gave his life for them. And these aren’t just things that happened a long time ago; they are actions that have implications for us as well because Jesus gave his life for us too. All that he did for others he does for us. And so, you and I are to love in truth and action. We love in the truth that is Jesus and we do it by our actions. Loving in the ways that Jesus loves goes beyond what we do on Sunday morning. What we do on Sundays should help feed us and strengthen us so that everything we do in the time ahead is done in truth and action. And sometimes we are called to difficult truth and impossible actions. Yet that is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. On that first Easter morning, the disciples could not have known what was going to be asked of them; but they knew what had been asked of Jesus, and that he fulfilled his calling. Now it is time for us to fulfill ours, no matter how difficult, because the kingdom of God is for everyone… all, means all. If it’s not about love it’s not about God; and love is sometimes hard and requires all that we have.
What difficult things are we being asked to do in Jesus’ name? Who are we being asked to love that others do not? If our life is too easy, if following Jesus seems too easy, then we need to love a little harder, we need to act more directly in the world so that it becomes the kingdom. May we all pray to be led through the truth that is Jesus, so that we may act in the world as he would have us act. If it’s not about love, it’s not about God.
Alleluia, Christ is risen!