For the writer of 1 John love is the mark of true discipleship, love for one another and love for G_d. To be a child of G_d is to be one whose life has been reconfigured and reorganized by divine love. The world might not recognize you as a child of G_d, (a manifestation of Love) but this is who you are. The world might not know you as a child of G_d because the world didn’t (doesn’t) know Jesus—the paradigmatic “godling”, that is, a chip off the old block, so to speak.
How curious it is that the 21st century church doesn’t spend a whole lot more time inquiring about how to be the beloved community—how to love each other. If we have opened our minds and hearts to the field of love that Jesus embodied that will be present in our communities. (“Where two or three have gathered in my name (field), there am I in the midst of them”).
In the rationalistic orientation of the liberal church, we do not really “go in for” all that new age talk about “energetic fields”. Yet they are real, they are eternally present, and they are powerful. The gathering “in Jesus name” would do well to spend more time when getting together to suspend the rational faculty for a few minutes, and allow “the name of Jesus” , his spirit, his field of consciousness, to inform the proceedings. To do this would be to channel the love that animated him. Seems obvious, but if it’s so obvious, why don’t we practice it?
As I said, this era of modernist rationalism that we’re so steeped in whether we know it or not, simply doesn’t allow for the invisible realms to influence us. What is real is what is before our eyes. Subtle energy, energetic fields, etc. seems just a little too “out there”. I should say that I have nothing against reason. Nada. It is, as I’ve said before, a great tool. We could use it for example to take seriously the realm of quantum science, with its strange language of non-locality, participatory universe, complementarity, entanglement, etc. All of which point to a non-physicalistic realm which some associate with consciousness itself.
I can’t help but pick up on the underlying evolutionary dynamic of 1 John 3:3:
3:2 “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.”
Clearly, the author has a sense that we will go beyond the stage of childhood, and evolve into…he doesn’t venture a guess. But it will be a maturing of the human, a development that will be accelerated and amplified by consenting to love having its way with us. And “when he is revealed, we will be like him”… Interesting, my best stab at what this means is that we are being invisibly, but inexorably drawn by and into the same Love that animated Jesus. By the time he is revealed we will be able to recognize him because we have all along been in the process of being transformed by that Love.
There is a whole line of philosophy called epistemology that looks at what we can know and can’t know and how we know what we know. One of the principles is that we can only know something out there because there is something within us that corresponds to it, and therefore can recognize, what it outside of ourselves. This could be called the soul of the world, that is the common ground for all creation. We will know Love when we see it because we participate in and are animated by that same Love. It is constitutive of our very being.
Those who gather “in Jesus name” (spirit or energetic field) are those who have awakened to this deeper identity. And consented, as I’ve said, to be reorganized by it. In other words to shake off the personality and the allegiance to the culture which is a projection of our collective small self, and to live “in Christ”, knowing ourselves to be children of G_d on our way to being, well, who knows what…but certainly more closely reflecting the love which gave birth to a universe and is in the process of becoming.
So, says the author of 1 John, we must “purify” ourselves. But actually, it’s not really up to us, that is, this purification is not a matter of waking up one day, putting on sackcloth and ashes, or meditating in the hopes that we will be purified. This yearning to purify ourselves is a response to a gut feeling that arises when we are out of sync with Love. It feels so yucky, it’s like we’ve soiled ourselves by behaving in ways that don’t reflect our true nature. And when you’ve soiled yourself, the instinctive reaction is to clean yourself up—stop doing what you are turning, consciously return to alignment and coherence, and reset the system. The resultant feeling is relief and gratitude.
3:5 “You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.”
It’s fairly difficult to read this without associating it with atonement. But I’m taking it straight up. “When love comes to town” there is no sin. There is identification with the other and with identification comes compassion. In this sense we are either in love or we are in a condition of alienation, and this latter state gives rise to all manner of so-called “sins”, or let’s just call them acts of ignorance, born of the illusion that we are separate from the “love that fires the sun and keeps us burning”. (Cockburn)
1 John 3:1-7
1 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.
3:3 And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
3:4 Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
3:5 You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.
3:6 No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him.
3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
24:36b While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
24:37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
24:38 He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?
24:39 Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
24:40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.
24:41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
24:42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
24:43 and he took it and ate in their presence.
24:44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you–that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”
24:45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,
24:46 and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day,
24:47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
24:48 You are witnesses of these things.
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