A concept such as this that follows is a hard one for a Christian to say, write about, speak publicly, and wrestle with. Let the words stand as they are:
“Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. But 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.”
— 1 John 2:10-11 (NRSV)
1 John is a very black and white epistle, revealing the writer’s personality as one who sees no twilight – there is only light and darkness in the spiritual realm. There is ‘lukewarm’ (Revelation 3:16).
But the rubber hits the road when we read this very personally – and we all need to if we are to subscribe with integrity to the truth. Let us understand this: whoever loves can see in truth as they walk in truth, but the one who is stiff-necked in their hatred, no matter how well it is concealed, sees nothing and walks blind.
As I write this, this word penetrates my own heart, and I am forced to reconcile an important truth: I speak in these terms in genuine fear and trembling. God Almighty is not to be messed with on matters such as these. God, have mercy on me, a sinner!
Let’s Look at the Positive Example
I know a theoretical woman who I see walks in the light. She has every worldly reason to withhold her forgiveness, for she has been transgressed. She is theoretical for good reason.
Her process is with God. She goes to God angry and confused and comes away feeling a little more at peace about the wrongs done against her. She’s not there yet, but she insists on loving the best she can, and she, therefore, has been gifted more and more sight of the truth. She has some way to work it all out, and it might take years. But grace will have its final say.
Importantly, she is open the movement of God’s Spirit and the truth in her heart.
Let’s Look at the Negative Example
I know a theoretical man who I see bumbles away furiously in the darkness. He has every worldly reason to withhold forgiveness, and, sure enough, I see he has been seduced by the darkness. He cannot forgive. As I see it, his capacity for truth is seriously undermined. This man might as well be me! I’m allowed to safely say that, so as not to grant any highfalutin self-righteousness to myself in judging another.
Each person can read the truth for him or herself.
Loving a brother or sister in Christ reveals the truth is in us – we see the truth and walk in it. But the opposite is also true. That is motive enough to forgive – that we may continue seeing the God-revealed reality as it truly is.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.