Let us pray: Dear Lord Jesus, without You we are nothing. Without You we are but dust, ashes, and lifeless clay. Without You we are but animals stalking this earth seeking something, anything, and never finding it. And so we’re thankful that You have come. We’re thankful that You meet us in Word and sacrament to teach us the true meaning of life. We’re thankful that You have given us internal light to see right from wrong, to avoid evil and to walk in honesty. We’re thankful that You have given us both earthly and eternal love. And we’re grateful that You have promised never to withdraw Your gracious hand from our lives. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR RESURRECTED LORD!
TEXT: I John 1: 1—2:2
Dearly Beloved By The Risen Christ:
No matter whether it is a newspaper, a magazine, a radio or a TV broadcast, somewhere sandwiched between editorial wisdom and the comics resides an opinion poll. You know the type. 500 people randomly surveyed to answer a burning question of the day. And it doesn’t matter whether that burning question is about nuclear war, presidential contenders, dog food, or what kind of soda to drink, in every case the implication is clear.—Don’t you want to follow the majority? Don’t you want to be on the winning side?
Opinion polls are as imperfect as the people who answer them. That’s why most of us take them with a grain of salt. However, there is one opinion poll that we should follow religiously. That being:
GOD’S OPINION POLL
In our text God the Holy Spirit lists the three most important things in the entire universe. He lists the three most important things for us to latch onto. In His perfect opinion they are: life, light, and love.—The 3 “L’s”, if you will. So, let’s examine them close up and personal.
Certainly a strong case can be made for the possession of life. Life is a necessity for human existence. Without life we do not exist at all. Without life it doesn’t matter whether the stars shine, the trees turn green, or the sun warms the Spring ground. If you are not alive all of that is meaningless. Everyone recognizes the importance of life, too. And every society known to humans has sought to protect and honor the right to life. Why? Because God has written that truth into everyone’s heart. He has given us that knowledge to prevent chaos. So, no matter how hard some people try to ignore or even negate that principle of life—his or her conscience ends up condemning them.
However, there is another side of life besides the physical. God has ordained the universal need and reality of spiritual life, as well. Spiritual life is about making the heart glad. It is about giving meaning and purpose to the daily grind we all endure. The Triune God has linked these 2 sides of life, the physical and spiritual, together in the person of Jesus Christ. John now talks about this. “That which was from the beginning (Christ) which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it.”
John was Jesus’ beloved disciple. He saw, touched, smelled, and heard Christ. He saw Him live and die and rise again from the grave. And by listening to and really hearing Christ’s words, he was given spiritual life. He was given a happy heart and a clean conscience. He was given a reason to get up each morning and face the day. And what was that reason? Again, our lesson tells us. “We proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.”
Life is the primary principle of God. He has lived and will live forever. Moreover, He wants to share the joy and happiness of life with us. The importance of life to God is proven by Jesus’ resurrection. And simply by believing in His return to life, you are given His spiritual joy of life. You are given eternal access to God Almighty and intimate fellowship with Him. Thereby His joy, your joy, and our joy are complete. Thereby your life counts—eternally!
The 2nd principle of primary importance to God is light. Surely light is necessary for life. Look around. If God had not created light what would there be? No trees, no stars, no plants, no food, no animals to live off that food, nothing to see, nothing to taste, touch, smell, or hear. Without light there would be no you and me. Just as humans need physical light to see the problems of this physical world and solve them, so people need spiritual light to solve anger, hatred, envy, greed, lust, and that gnawing sense of emptiness. Yes, just as the bright sunlight warms our bones and stimulates our hormones to make us happy so, too, the light of God’s Word stimulates our hearts, minds, and souls, creating joy and gladness.
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sins.”
There is not a person alive who has not, and occasionally is not, afraid of the dark. Darkness symbolizes the unknown. It conjures up images of violence, misery, corruption, unhappiness, ignorance, decay, and deceit. The devil is the prince of such spiritual darkness. He is the author of sin. He is the father of that ultimate darkness—death. St. John reminds us not to follow the dark one. We are not to have fellowship with him or his representatives. We are to fight off darkness and the devil. We are to fight off evil by confessing our sins to God and trusting in the blood of Christ to forgive. Doing so exposes evil to the light. And the light of God’s grace disinfects and kills the virus of sin.
God is composed of 3 distinct persons (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) all inseparably united together in one eternal reality. Therein lies the 3rd principle which weaves together life and light. That 3rd principle being: love.
All people regardless of religious affiliation desire love. Without love life is empty, riches are worthless, friendships are a burden, marriage is a disaster, and children are a headache. But when real love occurs, when heartfelt, unconditional, no-strings-attached love is present, life works! From such love springs honesty, truthfulness, trust and joy. From such love springs happy memories and future gladness.
God loves us. He loved us so much that He gave His one and only Son “to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” God gave us the best He had. He didn’t hold back. He sent Jesus to live a perfect live in our place, to lovingly die on the cross thereby placating God’s righteous anger over our sins, and then to lovingly rise to life on Easter morning. All this to assure us of His loving victory over sin and death—for us!
The only thing God wants from you is for you to reciprocate this love. He wants your love. So, give it to Him! Gladly confess your sins, what do you have to lose? Gladly give Him your worries. He wants to carry your medical problems, your concern for your kids, your job hassles, and anything else that bothers you. He wants to transfer the weight of your worries to Himself. So, why not let Him do it? After all, Who better to help you than Your brother Jesus?
The amazing thing about love is that the more you spread it around—the more it comes back. God knows that. That’s why He gave us the jewel of His crown in Jesus. That’s why He watches over our lives, sends guardian angels to protect us, providentially cares for all creation, and provides you with fellow Christians who really do love you. Yes, He spreads His love around and it just keeps coming back to Him with interest and dividends!—That interest and dividends being the beauty and joy of our lives. Life, light, and love. Believe in their existence. Rejoice in their reality. Be thankful for them. Use them every day. And be blest both here in time and hereafter in eternity! Amen