Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. –1 John 2:7
“How many times do I have to tell you the same thing?” If you’re a parent, you’ve probably uttered these exact words or ones very much like them. Of course, what the kids hear is something more akin to “Mumble mumble rumble mumble.” That’s the nature of parenting.
When I was a child, I heard my parents’ admonitions as a host of random and unconnected advice. “Don’t take any wooden nickels.” “Look both ways.” “Finish your peas.” “Don’t talk with your mouth full.” “Learn to save some of your money.” It seemed that, to please them, I had to memorize an entire list of apparently unrelated rules and regulations. Only after time did I recognize that these things were neither random nor unrelated. Instead, their demands on me started to fall into categories.
“Don’t waste your money” was a big one in my family, not surprising since my father was a banker. “Give proper respect to authority” stands out as another one, as does “Don’t be gross.” Of course, my mother would have never said “gross.” That word is just too–well–gross.
In the end, I recognized that there wasn’t much that I heard in my family at sixteen that I hadn’t heard at six, albeit in a different form. Of course it took me until I was thirty-seven to figure that out.
The “message you have heard” that John mentions here is presumably the gospel of Jesus. It’s a familiar message, one preached, in quite a straight-forward manner, over the last two Sundays at my church. At times, we might be tempted to wave off that message, assuming that we’ve heard it all before. It’s an old command, an old message, to be sure, but if John thought it worthwhile to share that old message with the recipients of his letter, then how much more should we, separated by nearly 2,000 years from the eyewitnesses to the message, attend on its repetition.
The old message is still a good message, in fact the best of messages. Let’s never forget that.