“He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” 1 John 2:9-11
I was thirteen years old and we were attending Michigan Conference’s teen winter snow outing at Camp Au Sable. Because it was winter the sun set early so there were several hours of darkness between sunset and when we went to bed.
During one of the trips we took between our cabin and the main lodge, where most of the activities were taking place, we decided to race each other through the woods without using our flashlights.
What a crazy, funny thing to do. There we were tumbling into snow banks, running into trees, and crashing into each other as we attempted to break land speed records on those twisting and turning trails. It was only our familiarity with the trails combined with the fact that we had started at a well lit trail head and would end at another that kept us from becoming lost.
But imagine if we hadn’t known the trails and if there had been no light at all so we didn’t know where we were when we started and we wouldn’t know where we were to know when we’d gotten to where we wanted to go. We’d have probably frozen to popsicles as we waited for someone to come and shine a light and show us where we were and how to get where we were going.
In life, we’ve all been looking for someone to come and shine a light so that we can stop crashing around in the darkness. God’s stepped in and he’s shined his light and he’s lighting the way for us. As we stay within the offered comfort and safety of the light we realize that the only way to keep the light is to accept a relationship with God. And we say yes. But we haven’t walked very far when we encounter someone else lost in the darkness and they rush into the comfort of the light. A little further on and we run into another, and then another. Before long the circle of light is filled with lost people all trying to keep as close to the source of light as they can.
In frustration we begin to wish that some of these people would just go away and stop crowding into the light and it’s here that God tells us that he didn’t come out into the darkness to find just us. He’s trying to find as many lost people as he can and we can only keep our relationship with him if we care about the others lost in the dark and help him as he works through the night to find them.
In our focus text we’re told that if we “hate” our brother we’re still lost in the dark. The Greek word translated, “hate,” literally means, “to love less.” So you don’t have to despise someone or want them dead to hate them. All you need to do is love them less than you do yourself.
Only the light of God is able to show the state of our hearts. As his love for you reveals your indifference to others will you let him open your eyes and teach you to love like he does.