Summary: The journey of following Jesus happens in large part within the community of the beloved, the church.
The Community of the Beloved - 1 John 2:3-11 - June 17 Sermon
I’m going to start by asking you to use your memory. Think for a moment of yourself when you first began to follow Jesus. Think about what you were like.
Think about how you acted, how you spent your time, and maybe even of how you were known by others, your reputation in your community, in your family. Try to put that into a snapshot in your mind.
And now think of who you are today. And consider the changes.
An article on Christianity.com talked about James and John; the John who wrote the letter we are studying toda. It says this:
“Now, you don’t get a nickname like Sons of Thunder for no reason [Mark 3:16–17]. But that is how Jesus’ disciples, James and John, were known.
“They were rough-hewn guys—amazing, colorful characters. They would not back away from a confrontation. In fact, they might even have looked forward to one.
They could be very aggressive. And they also could be very insensitive.
“On one occasion, when the people in a village of Samaria were not responsive to the message of Jesus, it was James and John who wanted to call down fire from heaven on them (see Luke 9:54).
“When Jesus spoke of His own impending death, about how he would be betrayed and then handed over to the Gentiles to be mocked, spit upon, scourged, and ultimately killed, James and John blurted out,
“Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask. . . . Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory” (Mark 10:35, 37 NKJV).
“Was that a good time to bring this up? It would be like saying, “Really? Could I have your car?” to someone who just found out they had one week to live.
These guys just said what they thought. And they were just like us: hopelessly human and remarkably unremarkable.
“But God transformed them. And at the end of their lives, these men, who were known when young as Sons of Thunder, became known for something else.
James was the first apostle to be martyred. And John became known as the apostle of love. He was the author of the Gospel of John as well as the epistles of 1, 2, and 3 John.
“God made James and John into different people than they were before—and He can do the same for us”.
We are continuing today in our series on the letter of 1 John.
The Apostle John is called the disciple whom Jesus loved, and as we have seen there is a big difference between John when he first appears in the gospels to John years later when he was a mature follower of Jesus.
There is a huge difference, in fact. The difference is that he has learned to love.
And he didn’t learn to love in a vacuum. On his own. In a desert. Disconnected from others. Sorting it all through in his head.
He learned to love as part of the church; he learned to love in the church as he rubbed shoulders with other Jesus-followers, as he engaged in service.
As he was going through his own personal struggles, as he was learning to see himself as part of a community formed by God, loved by God, beloved by God. His community of the Beloved.
And so it’s to the writings of the former ‘Son of Thunder’, transformed into “the apostle of love” that we turn again today to consider what it means for us as the church to be the community of the beloved.
This is a large topic that we will likely spend more time on in the future as a church, but for today we’ll consider The Community of the Beloved is at the least two things:
? A Community of Forgiveness (as we learn to know, be and do)
? A Community of Grace (as we grow in what is always a deep, slow process)
The Community of the Beloved is a Community of Forgiveness
So as we start to look at today’s passage, we see that John says that knowing God, truly knowing God, is keeping God’s commands.
This can both make a lot of sense and at the same time create a lot of tension in us. Why might that be?
It makes sense because I think we know or feel that loving God should be more than sentimental. Loving God is not the same as me saying “I love God, and I do whatever I darn well please”.
We sense the built-in contradiction to that way of thinking, and some of us who have been around a while have known folks like that.