“Advocate, Act, Hate” Let’s pray… Rev. Stuart C. Buisch
You don’t sin, but if you do sin. Sounds like plucking the petals off a daisy, he sins, he doesn’t sin, she sins, she doesn’t sin. In fact that might be a great picture of how sin is understood in our community. Hell is such an unheard of, yet often spoken, word and idea I am not sure when someone was last afraid of hell. Even John writes that this advocate, not only deals with our sins but the sins of the whole world. So hell, I am over it, right? Why would Jesus be an advocate for something that doesn’t exist, people might say. In the recent racial conundrum we are in, there are those for whom there is no racism and others who are overwhelmed by an experience of racism. It is so polarized that either side can’t believe the other side exists.
Sin on the other hand, I believe exists. I am not sure I understand all its intricacies. Cos, our dog, gives it a face. When we come home after a day away, any one of us is good for a hug, a treat, just being held and receiving kisses. When however, Cos has done something wrong he whole demeanor is quite altered.
Shoulders bent, nose down, eyes barely looking up. He needs an advocate, which Quin and Mad happily supply. Yes, sin, the wrong we commit, the right we ignore, clearly exists. But Jesus is our advocate. Wait, don’t you have to tell your lawyer everything. Maybe this advocate idea is not so good. O yeah, God, thus by extension Jesus, knows everything so we don’t have to tell. We can sort of say, you know that thing, that just happened, or you know what I saw yesterday and stayed where I was and didn’t distract the perpetrator, yeah that. Can I get some advocacy for that. A recent insurance ad suggests that the agent has done something special for us with the premium or the coverage. Perhaps the reason that ad is so engaging is that we like to be special, given unique advantage. Not so with sin, all sin is covered by Christ.
John doesn’t linger on sin. It is as if, Jesus has that covered, and I might repeat for everybody, so let’s move on. Can we do that? Advocate suggests that we need counsel. We need someone to clarify. Sin is wrong, commission or omission but we don’t need to live in it. John moves on to knowing, which may seem disjointed but we can’t get advocacy from someone we don’t even know. Just like a few weeks back John’s word was see, reveal, today it is know. Knowing is a repeated idea that is connected to our actions. If we know Christ we obey Christ’s commands. Knowing Christ is exhibited in the way we live. It is about the way we love.
Sin isn’t worth the preoccupation of time. Christ can and will deal with it. It seems from his identity as advocate that we must GO to him. Talk it over with him. Sin is lingering in the wrong and not believing the right. We can believe that God forgives us in Christ. But we must also believe that forgiveness leads to a new way of living. It is also open to forgiving the one who wrongs us, the one who doesn’t love us.
Sin, love and hate are connected. Hate comes up in this passage and is the second most used idea. We’re not in Christ’s light if the darkness of hatred lives in us. Interesting that love and hate are both four letter words but they reap such different harvests. One is full of light and hope the other is such a closed door. A child refuses to communicate with a parent. Light or dark? A parent refuses to answer the caller id when their child calls: light or dark? A neighbor waves off a greeting: love or hate? Saying good morning first: light or dark?
We all have lists of things that are wrong directed to us. But the question is: who are we? Are we the children of light or travelers in darkness? How do we know we are in light or dark? In the polarized world we live in how do we decide what the light is and what the dark is? Surely our understanding and belief of where Christ is at any point tells us where the light is.
Psalm 139 is perhaps one of the most probing Psalms for personal reflection. All the glory of God knowing so much about us, where we are, what we feel, the impossibility of getting away from God, is captivating. But the Psalm ends in a most uncomfortable way. Vs 19 -22 beg for God to kill the wicked, proving our loyalty by hating those who hate God. Yes, I hate them!’ Listen to that boldness.
Humans are incredible creatures. We can sin, we can love and we can hate. I am not sure that I am always in control of those three things. Well probably my sin, commission or omission. But love is another story and hatred is on its own set of rules. I am not comfortable blaming God for my love or hate. I am also not comfortable using God’s hatred – something I am not sure I even believe exists with regard to humanity- as a justification for my hatred.
The incredibly good news which seems to have a strange relation to our current society, is that the darkness is passing away. I want to live in the light, I want to believe in the God who is causing the darkness to pass away and I want to be like Christ with regard to sin, love and hate, In the name of God of Hosts, Christ our savior and the Spirit of the almighty.
Wonder working God of the Universe, show us how big we believe you are..
Jesus of Nazareth, who gave his life for us, help us let go of our clinging…
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on us…