7Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8Yet I am writing you a new commandment that is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness.
10Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. 11But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness. 12I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven on account of his name. 13I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young people, because you have conquered the evil one. 14I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young people, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
5Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; 16for all that is in the world – the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches – comes not from the Father but from the world. 17And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.
John’s letter is a kind of greatest hits reprise of his Gospel. The problem in John’s day is that false teachers have come into the church, and there are two ways to root them out. One has to do with a test of belief; true teachers of the Gospel confess Jesus is from God and truly came in the flesh. But the second sign is an expression of that belief through love. Simply, if we believe what we say, our lives will be characterized by love. This is no new commandment (it was when Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.”) By now the church should know that to follow Jesus means that our lives will be full of love for others. This also means that loving one another will help us lose our desire for the things of the world. So, as we live in days with less—fewer opportunities, fewer consumer goods, fewer things to distract us from a new reality—maybe God is calling us to respond with more love.
Gracious God, as you gave yourself to us in the love of Jesus Christ, let your Spirit be among us, that we would have the love to give ourselves to others. Remove all the things from our lives that bind us to the world, as we would be bound to you alone. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.