“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? ” (1 John 3:17)
For those of you who don’t know how I plan my sermons, I usually take a day in the fall to plan out my preaching plan for the year. This allows me to put the whole year in perspective, working up to the big days like Easter and Christmas, and along the way focusing on important themes or working through books of the Bible. Still, it always amazes me how God’s Spirit works through such planning.
I selected I John for the beginning of the year thinking, “Let’s start the new year studying what it means to love one another so that we can become a more loving community.” Working through 1 John we’ve seen how our assurance of salvation comes from the evidence of the new life that Christ has given us – that is, if we are saved we will follow his command to love one another (1 John 2:5). Then we saw how, if we are walking with Christ, we must love our brother, so that there will be no cause for stumbling (1 John 2:10). Last week we were reminded that as the children of God we are growing in the likeness of Christ (1 John 3:3). This week we will see how our love for God is expressed in a very real and practical demonstration of love for our brother (1 John 3:17).
We cannot love God without that love being demonstrated in our love for those around us. As John writes, if we have the world’s goods at our disposal and see our brother in need, yet we close our hearts to him, how can God’s love abide in us? James 2:15 says, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” When Jesus told the parable of the final judgment, he said that he would separate the sheep from the goats. To the sheep he would say, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” When asked when they had done this, the Lord said, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers ,you did it to me” (Matthew 25:31-40).
Two weeks ago a powerful earthquake hit approximately 10 miles from the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. Millions of people have been affected by this disaster and over 150,000 are reported dead. With many of the established sources of safety and security demolished – churches, schools, hospitals, and government buildings – survivors are searching for signs of hope and help.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) is responding through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA). World Mission is in contact with and providing support to current mission personnel in Haiti. PDA is rushing an initial $100,000 from One Great Hour of Sharing and designated funds to provide immediate emergency relief to the affected people. Funds are being sent through our ecumenical and local partners working in Haiti.
What can we do to help? The PDA recommends we stand in the “GAP”
Give – Financial support for relief efforts can be designated to DR000064. Gifts can be made online at www.pcusa.org/pda, by phone at (800)872-3283, or checks can be mailed to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, P.O. Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700.
Act – Congregations and individuals can put together hygiene kits to be distributed through Church World Services. Contact your local church to find out more about how you can help.
Pray – You can join with others in lifting up the people of Haiti and those seeking to provide aid in this critical time.
Beloved, let us love one another, and may our love for God be shown in how we love those who are in need.
Grace and peace,