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May 12, 2024

Love Wins All

Pastor KJ Kim

1 John 5: 1-6

Today’s passage, the letter of 1 John is addressed to the little congregation in the Roman Empire, reminding and affirming to them its identity as Easter believers and its way of life with a special purpose in the world. And we, as a church, continue to visit and read this ancient letter to the church because it is as relevant and contemporary for us today.

The letter says, “We are born of God,” that we are people who belong to a different family, a different identity, and a different loyalty. This belief and faith do not guarantee any safety and well-being in the empire on earth. Rather, this faith holds us awake from the empire knowing that God is still working and doing something that often goes beyond our own rational understanding behind the scenes.

This peculiar and precious identity is followed in the letter by a demanding mission. God is still recruiting and calling for people who can be agents to reveal what an alternative world may look like. And Jesus shows and exemplifies what that means—carrying and sacrificing himself on the cross.

How about other Jesus’s teachings? If people slap you on your right cheek, you must turn the left cheek to them as well, follow me; When they wish to haul you to court and take your shirt, let them have your coat too, follow me; when they force you to go one mile, go with them two, follow me; Love your enemies and pray for those who harass you, follow me. Yes, these teachings sound romantic and surreal and fictional, but these are our calling, reminding us that we have another way of life to live in the world.

Why do we need to be part of this demanding mission? What’s the reward and the promise? The writer uses the word “defeat” three times. Those born of God defeat the world. This is the victory that defeats the world. Jesus is the one who defeats the world.

This little letter from John is a love letter, an invitation, and a reminder of our true identity, demanding task, and the promise. We are all children of God—Born of God. This is our true identity. With this identity, God demands us to live out God’s commandment—"We shall love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind. And We shall love our neighbor as ourselves.”

How? We keep God’s commandment by following Jesus Christ—by carrying our own cross, by turning the other cheek, by loving our enemies, and praying for those who harass us, by giving things to the poor. All sounds foolish that we often don’t make any sense at all. But this is the truth because the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. This is the way how Jesus defeated the power of the Roman Empire, even through his death. This is the way we, as those who are born of God, are called to follow him in order to defeat and conquer the world.

Thanks be to God.

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