“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” – 1 John 4:19-21
The Apostle John does not just want the child of God to abide in the Lord’s love for him or her. John wants them to fully live into that love of God and share it with others. To truly live in the love of God means allowing it to transcend the individual. God’s love is poured into our hearts in such abundance that it then pours out of our hearts. Abiding in God’s love leads to demonstrating God’s love.
From John’s time to ours, the church has allowed Satan to sow seeds of anger, mistrust, and animosity between God’s children. There have been divisions into and then within denominations. Needless to say, these divisions can be messy and very painful, as God’s people become certain of their stances and judgmental of those who disagree.
John addressed God’s people with these challenging words from today’s reading. You cannot say that you love God while hating your Christian brothers and sisters. John doesn’t say that you cannot disagree with them, but that your attitude towards them should be that of love. Love forgives. Love listens. Love is not proud. John explains that thinking we can love God and not his people discounts his living presence within those people. Just as you received the Holy Spirit when you came to faith, so too did your brother and your sister in Christ. Not loving them is not loving Got within them.
John asks how you can love an invisible God while hating God made visible in his people? These are challenging words that God’s people would do well to embrace today. How are you loving the people of God? John did not just call you to love those who voted like you did in the election, but also those who have a completely different view than yours. John does not call you to love the person across the street from you, but the one who lives in a neighborhood that does not look like yours. John will not call you to love those in your church and your denomination, but the one that you hold in disdain for the way they worship or baptize or distribute communion.
God wrote the words of Scripture through his Apostles to comfort, instruct, and challenge his people. Are you willing to be challenged by John’s words of love today?
Reflect & Respond:
How can you put this love in action today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our new six-week Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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