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Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Have you ever read a passage of scripture and felt condemnation and shame because of it? If you have ever struggled with a difficult relationship, passages like this might make you feel that way. Is it just me? It’s easy to feel like this text is telling us we are “in darkness” because we have all struggled with people. We may tell ourselves we don’t “hate” anyone, but our inner self fears that maybe our negative feelings might qualify as hate no matter what we tell ourselves. Is that what this text is saying? Are we still in darkness if we strongly dislike (hate) someone?

The good news is, I don’t think this text is intended to strike guilt and shame into us. In fact, guilt and shame are not intended results of any gospel truth. The bad news is that hate is still dangerous. John is pleading with us not to hate because we are at risk of being hated by God in return, instead he is pleading with us because hate is by nature a place of darkness. If you have ever been at odds with someone you may know this to be true. Anger can dominate your mind and it darkens your outlook on life. John tells us we walk in darkness when we live in hate.

Love on the other hand is a place of light. Living in love towards others is like walking around with a 6th sense. It’s more than just clarifying, it’s like walking with a spotlight that sees in every dark corner of the world. When you love, you can see the offenses others commit against you as expressions of a bad day, or a brokenness stemming from a deep hurt. Love is a better way to live, not because we are told to love but because it is what we were made for.

Take a moment to write a prayer asking God to illuminate your world with eyes of love today. Set aside all guilt and shame and step into the light of love. As you ask God to help you walk in love towards others, remember he wants that for you. His answer is yes. [/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Aaron Bjorklund  

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