Sunday Salon: A Study in Contrasts

Last Sunday I wrote about my book club, Biblically Literate, and this Sunday I’m starting my Bible study for the book club in 1 John. I read through the book, only five short chapters long, this afternoon, and the first thing I noticed was all the contrasts that John draws in his letter. It’s a message full of stark contrast: love vs. hatred, light vs. blindness, life vs. death, truth vs. lies, righteousness vs. sin, forgiveness vs. condemnation, true worship vs. idolatry, confidence vs. fear, real vs. counterfeit.

We tend to think we live in a moral universe of grey tones. Situational ethics and the dangers of legalism have taught us that nothing is as simple as it seems, that no one is completely good or wholly evil. It’s a grey world for most of us, most of the time. Or as Paul said in I Corinthians, “Now we see through a glass darkly.”

But someday, according to both Paul and John, we will see God, the Maker and Lover of the Universe, face to face. John says, “We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Then the contrasts will be clear: Truth on one side, Evil and Deceit on the other. Men will be without excuse, having chosen either goodness and truth and forgiveness or evil and deceit and condemnation. No in-between, if there is a purgatory, that medium state will be over and done with; we will be known and we will know the Light of the World is Jesus.

We may value ambiguity in our literature here and now because the world looks ambiguous through that dark glass, but it won’t always be so. In fact, if John is right, Reality isn’t ambiguous even now; it only looks that way to us on this side of eternity. Oh, how I want to see everything in contrast, even if people call me simplistic and unsophisticated; I want to see everything through the Light. John declares, “God is Light; in him there is no darkness at all.” No shades of grey at all.

In other news, Hurricane Gustav looks like a near miss for Houston, where I live about thirty miles from the coast. Pray for the people of Louisiana and other points east who may be inundated by wind and rain this Labor Day weekend.

Someone referred me to this blog, written by Director of Missions Joe McKeever, who lives and works in New Orleans, right after Katrina. I’ve kept reading it ever since because Pastor McKeever has such good insights about both New Orleans and the Christian life. (He also makes me homesick for being a Southern Baptist.) Now he’s writing about the stress of living in a New Orleans under hurricane threat —again.

I have this children’s fiction book about the Galveston hurricane of 1900 on my shelf. I think I’ll give it to the kids, maybe Karate Kid, to read, since they’ve all heard enough about hurricanes this week to make them curious about what a real hurricane would be like. I also read and wrote about this nonfiction book on the same storm a couple of years ago that some of the adults might want to read if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

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