Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.
If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness. – 1 John 2:7-11
A friend’s daughter recently got married. The wedding was truly delightful. Large beautifully-decorated church. Amazing organ. Wonderful music. Precious friends. A bride and groom handsome and beautiful. In the moments leading up to the wedding a search was made for “something old” in the spirit of “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” I’m not sure what that little rhyme is all about, but it was important to her that she find something old to carry with her as he embarked on her walk down the aisle toward a whole new life.
The commandment that John recalls here is nothing new. It is old. The readers had heard it before. Yet it was new. A new attitude of the heart. A new way of expressing their faith. A newly-rediscovered emphasis on loving God and loving their neighbor. They were reclaiming God’s primary commandments, that summarized the 10 Commandments: Love God. Love your neighbor.
This is an old commandment. But it is new in that it really does have to do with how we show our faith. No longer was it to be temple worship, ceremonial laws, Sabbath laws, or Hebrew identity. They were to take that which they knew to be true to a new prominence of their identity.
So it is with us today. We are commanded to love God and love our neighbor. We have the example of Jesus – perfect in every way. We also have the examples of heroes of the faith who came back again and again to the Throne of Grace, and repented of their sins, and lived out that repentance in lives that honored God.
The path we travel as followers is a well-worn path. As John Baille puts in his book, A Diary of Private Prayer,
O you who were, and are, and are to come, I thank you that this Christian way in which I walk is no untried or uncharted road, but a road beaten hard by the footsteps of saints, apostles, prophets and martyrs.
This is no untested path. It’s an old path on which we discover new realities of God’s mercy and love, and new ways we may express that to one another.