1 John 3:23 is a Scripture passage quite often used to promote personal agenda, but rarely is the fuller meaning comprehended: And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another as he commanded us. What does this really mean, what is the real point of this statement? John is saying that only by being truly united to Christ can we draw strength through the Spirit. Why was this so important then and is it relevant now? Some in the early church community were beginning to promote division. They were beginning to disregard the commandment to love neighbor. Some were refusing to accept faith in Christ as the source of sanctification and denied the redemptive value of Jesus’ death. John was finding fault with pious Christians who developed petty hatreds and uncaring indifference. These words that Jesus handed on to John are actually a condemnation to extreme ideological positions like those threatening the Church today - dogmatic conservatism, which makes creedal orthodoxy the only criterion for faith, and fideism in which all that matters is accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, as well as liberalism, which reduces Christianity to living peacefully with others, where it’s enough to just seek what is socially just.
What is being said is there is a necessary relationship required between both God and other human beings. Relationships based on love. He is saying categorically, that salvation doesn’t depend on intense religious experience – being born again. Nor does it rest in dramatic charismatic expressions like speaking in tongues, or laying hands. Rather, we are saved because we are members of Christ – of his Church, the community gifted with God’s Spirit, in which the Holy Spirit’s presence is corroborated by our genuine, active, and loving concern for each other.
Here we are twenty one centuries later and what happened in the early church continues to repeat itself. Some still come to church in search of spiritual handouts and others to fulfill some sense of obligation. And others think that creating their own splinter church isn’t leading others astray, that this doesn’t go against the unity Christ prayed for before he gave up his life for the Church.
The deep Spirit and Truth Jesus spoke of will always remain hidden from those who are full of themselves, for in presumptuousness there is no room for God. It is the heart that is open that is on the path to love. We need to be vigilantly aware that God’s perfect love does not allow Him to be indifferent to what happens to you or me. Nor should we ever be lukewarm to God, for when one begins to be indifferent to God they are disconnected from the source to their better selves. My brothers and sisters, this growing unconcern for God is the cause leading to indifference to others. It is what is leading more and more to indifference of all creation. It is influencing one to think that they are the source for their life that they are self-sufficient, self-made men. Let us never be indifferent to God or anyone else. Let us not allow our Catholic faith to be reduced to ethics or a philosophy of life. Christ revealed the truth of life. His supreme act of love is not passing, it endures all things. It is the seed meant to produce the fruit of eternal life. By this fruit God is indeed glorified. May we always check our heart and see what’s really there, so that we might be truly united to Christ and draw strength through the Spirit.