For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?
A compass is a simple instrument but very effective. When we have lost our bearings we can be re-orientated. Throughout the Scriptures we discover the ‘compass’ of God’s love. Invariably it points away from us. In this passage we read once more that our love should be directed to others. We are mistaken if we think it should be pointed to ourselves. On the rare occasion when we hold a compass and it points to us then if we are to follow it we will end up having to walk backwards – never a good idea! And when we love ourselves more than we love others then it is a backward step for us and the communities that we are part of.
God’s compass of love is always pointing us towards others as he calls us to show his grace to them. We need to open our eyes to see those God is pointing us towards to love. We can be so preoccupied with ourselves that we don’t even notice others or we may think that there will be other people who will love them.
When we use a compass and map to discover where we should go we often need to change direction to get to our destination unless we are adept at walking sideways or backwards. Likewise in our call to love others, we cannot stay where we are and will often find ourselves having to change direction in order to reach out to them. But it is worth it because it is the way to life as opposed to death. Although it is also costly. We are reminded that for Jesus the compass of love led him to death (as well as resurrection) and as we follow the call to love we are to be prepared to lay down our lives for the sake of others.
Lord, raise our horizons beyond the preoccupations with ourselves. Open our eyes to see who it is that we are called to love today. Help us when it means we have to sacrificially change our understanding and our priorities as we travel in new directions to the people you have called us to love. Amen
The Rev’d George Watt, Minister, Reigate Park Church