We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. (1 John 3:14)
Where have you been the past 2 1/2 weeks?
The text just read has a very specific movement to it – passed out of death into life…or lack of movement…whoever does not love abides in death.
In the past 2 1/2 weeks, my dear family and I have passed out of 8 different states (North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee) abided in 3 of them (Indiana, Michigan, and North Carolina).
It’s good to be back abiding with you here. Rather, it’s good to be back abiding with ya’ll here.
More than 5 years ago, my family and I (my wife then of 5 years, a 2 year old Solomon and a 9 month year old Henry) passed out of Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee to abide with you as you called me to preach God’s Word and administer Gods sacraments to you so that you might continue to abide in the love and life of God and so that others might pass out of death into life as they are converted by our Lord to the Christian faith.
Thanks be to God for His Church. I have personally witnessed and received the love of brotherhood and sisterhood. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.
Our Christian lives are marked by movement. We who were by nature children of death, abiding in eternal death and deserving of God’s judgment were moved out of death into life. because our Lord sent forth His Son, who abided in heaven, but came down from heaven to be incarnate by the Holy Spirit to win for us salvation.
Because of His work for us, His movement from birth to life to a death on a cross to a resurrection on the third day to His ascension for us, our heavenly Father receives us. He loved us to the end and now everything is ready (Luke 14:17) our Gospel text says. The Lord receives us.
Our Proverb picks up this movement, too:
Whoever is simple, let him turn in here! To him who lacks sense, she says, “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and live and walk in the way in insight. (Proverbs 9:4)
We are brought out of death to life, brought to know the love and life of God, because of our Lord’s Jesus’ movement outside of us and then the Holy Spirit movement inside of us through this call. Come, everything is ready.
The Christian life is a life of movement, a continual movement. The movement out of death into life, of baptism, and into the love and life of the God we know is not the only movement.
There are tugs and pulls and temptations to lead us out of the love and the life of God and back into the death of the world and the devils grips.
For example, we are tempted by the world to think that the world will accept us and life will be easier, we will be more like, more popular is are just more like everyone else. That’s why John in our Epistle has to say:
Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. (1 John 3:13)
As we live Christian lives and say Christian words, we will be hated simply for being Christian. We are tempted to live differently, live like the world, speak like the world, treat God’s gift of sex and money like the world in fear that the world will hate us.
But God loves you. His never is stable. The world notion of love is fickle and unstable at best.
Jesus accepts you as His own despite your failings. You do not have to earn the Father’s love. Jesus has earned God’s pleasure for you. The world will keep demanding more and more, never satisfied that you are bending to their view. God accepts now for Jesus’ sake. Everything is ready. And He brings you into His life and His love. We know we have passed out of death into life
We are also tempted to be moved away from the love and life of God into a world where love is cheap and selfish. Again our Epistle admonishes us:
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18)
Love is primarily an action, a deed, a use of the material, physical, and emotional gifts God has given us here for the benefit of others in need:
If anyone has the worlds goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his hearts against him, how does God’s love abide in him? (1 John 3:17)
The world tempts and our sinful flesh tempts us to primarily love ourselves. Use the worlds good to benefit “me.” And look for the easy solution of loving our neighbors only in word or talk rather than the day in, day out grind it out task of loving in deed and in truth.
The Christian life is a constant movement of the God that we know moving us into His life and love by showing us His open heart, inviting us to abide in Him and then the world, the devil, and our sinful flesh moving us out of the life and love.
You are moved again today out of death into life.
Abide in this love. Abide in God’s life. Stay in His love.
And hear again who He is and what His life and love is about.
For, by this we know love, that He laid down His life for us (1 John 3:16).
We can abide in the love and life of God because we know Him. We know His love. We know His cross. We know His forgiveness. We know His Word. We know His acceptance of us and His desire to be with us. We know His feast as the Gospel reading declares to us.
By this we know love, that Jesus who saw us in need didn’t close His heart, but showed us His open heart, taking on a human heart so that we might have confidence that we are loved to the end.
By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us so that He might move us out of death into life.
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24)
And as constantly moved back into and abide in the life and love of the God we know, we also begin again to set aside our selfishness for the sake of those whom God has surrounded us with.
By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16)