Acting out the Faith

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:11–18)

The great love which God has demonstrated is a great love which is to be echoed in the life of the Christian. Earlier, John had described Christians as ‘children of God’, and this means that we are all brothers - or sisters - in a family which has God at its head. This is a family in which the bonds are tighter than even a human family, a family tied together by the love of God.

To describe this strength, John turns to the account of the first brothers: Cain and Abel. Here - driven by anger at his brother’s righteous acts - Cain kills his own kin. Although they were biological brothers, they were far from spiritual brothers: one practiced evil and the other righteousness. Stronger than blood are the ties that bind the ‘children of God’. Following the example of Jesus, who “laid down his life for us”, the Christian lays down his or her life for another Christian. If a fellow Christian is in need, then help is at hand.

In all of this John is reminding us that our heart is most clearly demonstrated in our actions, and not in our words. To love in ‘word or talk” is not enough. To love in “deed and in truth” is to truly love.

In its heart, the church is not a building or an institution. It is not so many hymns, clergy and buildings. It is a family of people who share the same heavenly father. As we live out that truth, then we can the church in its true glory.

We Love the Place, O God

We love the place, O God, wherein thine honour dwells; the joy of thine abode all earthly joy excels. - With the help of some of the congregation, William Bullock built a small church. In 1827, as he was preparing for the consecration service, he dwelt on Psalm 26:8 “O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells”. Inspired, he then wrote the hymn “We Love the Place, O God”.

Get Thee Behind Me Satan!

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:21) - Rather than trying to create a Jesus who reflects earthly concerns, you need to find a Jesus who is concerned with your soul.

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