I John 3:16-24 (NRSV)
Verse 16We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us-and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. Verse 17How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Verse 18Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. Verse 19And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him
Verse 20whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Verse 21Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; Verse 22and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.
Verse 23And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Verse 24All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.
The saying “walk the talk” demands action, not just words. It’s easier to discuss than to do something about challenges. The writer of this sermon insists God’s love compels us to respond to our neighbor’s needs.
The ultimate demonstration of love was Jesus giving up his power and laying down his life for us. Self-sacrificing love is rare. The way of the world is a self-serving life. Followers of Jesus are soaked with the Spirit. We are given hearts of love that thrive on caring for one another.
The synagogue in our neighborhood was recently defaced with symbols of hate. The faith community rallied around the rabbi and her congregation by sending letters of support and donations to restore the damage and help pay for security personnel. We are called to work against the forces of hate and death. When we claim Easter power, we “have boldness before God.”
Abiding Spirit, give us grace to follow your commandments. Grant us hearts of compassion to reveal and serve the needs of our neighbors. Protect those who suffer persecution because of their religion, ethnicity, or other unique qualities. Amen.