Verses for The Great Fifty Days
Day 37 in Easter
(A belated posting for Monday, May 7)
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
Sometimes we read verses quickly and miss things. Ours doesn’t say that we know we abide in God and God in us because “he has given us his Spirit,” but because “he has given us of his Spirit.” Something has been given us from God, from the Spirit. And yes, scripture says in many other places that God has given us his Spirit, but not here. Here our author is saying something a little different. Something from the Spirit has been given. And it has been given to an ‘us’ – to the community.
I wish I could talk to our author and try to pin down just what he means, but I suspect his answer is given in the beginning of this chapter where he talks about spirits that are “from God” and the spirits that are “from the world.” “Love is from God,” our author says, and “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
Where does love come from? How do we learn to see others as connected to us, as part of the body of Christ and a common human family? How do we learn to see and act with compassion, patience, understanding, humility, and grace? Because we have experienced such love from God. And we have experienced such love and faithfulness from God because we have experienced it from others.
The circle goes round and round. We know we abide in God and God in us because of what has come from the Spirit. And what has come from the Spirit is the love and fidelity of God that is, at the same time, love and fidelity from others that is, at the same time, love and fidelity to others.
It’s a little dizzying to read First John, this rich tapestry of interwoven phrases and ideas, but it’s hard to miss the point:
We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. (3:14)
We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us– and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. (3:16)
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. (3:18)
What comes from the Spirit is a community created by Good Friday and Easter, a people born of the new creation, a people abiding in love.
It is both a necessary reminder, urgent call, and a wondrous promise.
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Photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Labirinto_Cristo_-_San_Francesco_in_Alatri.jpg See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons