The deep evil of which humans are more than capable, lies in this: Not content with open rebellion against their maker, they engage in Machiavellian religion; they pursue their course against God while professing devotion to him. They think to use God for their purposes. But God sees and knows. Teach us to love you, O God; save us from our futility.
Clearly, this is not an exhortation to lovelessness per se. We are not asked to turn a cold shoulder to everyone and everything. The 'world' is the ego in all its individual, cultural, political, nationalist and racial expressions. It is relentless in its determination to resist and/or subvert God's rule. Unless we learn to love God, the world is irresistible.
What would make a human being come out with such a statement; an expression--not of autonomy, but of subordination, dependence and ignorance. It flies in the face of 21st century human consciousness. Are we not now--in addition to being merely self-conscious-- self-made, self-reliant, self-determining? The confession in today's text represents a radically alternative view of human life in our time; one which opens us up to huge personal resources with which to meet daunting
With this single sentence, John lays bare the phoniness of so much religion; so much that calls itself Christian. This does not mean that followers of Jesus are sinless (see 1 John 1:8). It means that the rallying point, the central interest, the inspiration, instructor and guide for living is Jesus. A discipleship that lacks interest in the question; What would Jesus do? Is a falsehood.
Beginning with Abraham, circumcision was invested with religious significance. It signified the covenant relationship between God and his people. But it was only ever a sign. It did not make fact, what it signified. That would require the cooperation of its recipients. God has never been satisfied with external religion. Always, he looks for the whole person's dedication to his values--a religion of the heart.
An all too common mistake on the part of those who would be godly, is to think, after much self-correction, that they have succeeded in occupying moral high ground; that they have moved beyond fault. In this they have deceived only themselves. A better devotion to the highest will always concur with what all our friends know to be the case: we are still part of the human race--full of imperfections.
Kindness, justice, righteousness are joyously present in the heart of God. Here stated, then, are the chief concerns of a consecrated life. Where these are not central, religion is a blight on humanity. Well might this be taken in to account when considering why religion is despised by so many.
Are there any wise men? Yes, there are. Are there any strong? Of course. Are there rich men? Plenty of them. So why ought they not glory in their natural or cultivated gifts? Because they are only men! They are mere humans, and what a man is in relation to God is what needs most to be acknowledged. And compared to God we are foolish, weak and poor.
John makes an astounding assertion; not astounding because he claims to have witnessed Jesus' career first hand with his own ears and eyes, but because he believes that in his personal acquaintance with Jesus the man, he encountered God. This is the reason for his exuberance. All social engagement has a view to what is even more satisfying---the supreme fellowship.
What a claim! One hard to argue against, though, given that the he who spoke it had been crucified, dead and buried just three days prior. It means everything that Jesus, despised by every category of human life, could not be overcome by death; could not be extinguished by any other known opinion or authority. The crucial issue for us and the world is: what does God think of this Man? Clearly, he lives at the pinnacle of God's esteem. We do well when we agree with God by gi