From Death to Life

Key Text: 1 John 3:14

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

The Easter season – those weeks following the great celebration – is a wonderful time to reflect on the gift of eternal life that comes by faith in Jesus Christ.

Many sermons are preached year reflecting on the miracle of Christ’s triumph over death; the promise of new life in Him.  All this leads up to the next great time of celebration – Pentecost – as the Church turns its focus to the coming of the Holy Spirit.

But for these few weeks – resurrection- new life – eternal life – is the main focus.

It’s fitting then, to recall something John says in one of his letters to believers: that we too have “passed from death to life.”  We don’t merely recognize and celebrate Christ’s victory of death – we claim it for ourselves as well.

What’s interesting to me about this particular passage is the detail of how love for each other is intimately related to this passing “from death to life.”

John leaves nothing to the imagination or speculation about it.  He is quite clear and bold in how he puts it: “Anyone who does not love remains in death.”

Have you ever thought about that before?

That if you are unloving, caught up in any resentment or lack or forgiveness or hatred for another that you are, literally, playing with death?

Not only does a lack of love kill relationships – apparently – it can literally kill us too, spiritually speaking.

This should not come as a surprise.  Why?

Because, as the scripture puts it, God is love.

Love, not in some silly sentimental way – but in the deepest and most profound way – is central to who God is.  No wonder then that there is no place for hatred or bitterness in the spiritual life of Christ’s followers.

Are you alive or dead – spiritually speaking?

Look at how much love there is in your life for others – and you’ll have your answer.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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