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Monday, September 6, 2010

What I'm Reading Today: 1 John 1-2

Having been raised in the Inland Northwest, I grew up in a part of the country that had white supremacist and separatist groups peppered throughout the country side. When I first heard of the existence of these groups, I simply clumped them together in my mind as if they were all affiliated with the outrageous KKK.

As I grew up, however, I realized that wasn't the case. Many of these groups claimed different roots. What shocked me most was that several of these groups tried to present themselves as if they sprung from the Christian tradition. I learned an entire branch of these groups came from what is called the Christian Identity movement. One of the most visible of these sects during my teen years was a group called the Aryan Nations.

The presence of such groups taught me an important lesson: not every person or group that claims a connection to the God revealed through Jesus is what they claim to be.

So how do we discern whether or not an individual or group that claims to be committed to following Jesus' way is actually serious about their claim?

A portion of today's reading is helpful in providing a way of determining that.

"Anyone who claims to live in God's light and hates a brother or sister," the author begins, "is still in the dark." The author continued: "It's the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God's light and doesn't block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn't know which end is up, blinded by darkness."

Clearly the groups of which I spoke earlier were in the business of propagating darkness. It wasn't hard to discern that given their hateful rhetoric. There are other individuals and groups, however, that also hate that can be much more difficult to catch. This is particularly true during election cycles when individuals and interest groups emerge purely to breed fear and distrust toward others. That fear and distrust can easily turn into hatred – the ultimate form of darkness.

As we move beyond the Labor Day weekend into a season when the election cycle begins in earnest, I would encourage all of us to keep the words from 1 John in mind as our guide as we try to discern which individuals/groups propagate light and which individuals/groups propagate darkness.

Til next time …

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