This entry is pretty much a journal entry that became the message at Journey Church a few weeks back. The more I’ve studied the commands for followers of Christ to love in the New Testament, the more I’ve been struck by how believers are first of all to love EACH OTHER and then to love the world. So few churches and "Christian" gatherings demonstrate such authentic, selfless love for each other these days, that it’s no wonder that the world wonders if we’re for real…
For background, read 1 John 3.11-24. It becomes clearer and clearer after last Sunday’s message just how essential my love for other believers is.
For this is the message that you have heard form the beginning, that we should love one another. 1 John 3.11
So few new believers realize the community of faith is a family
that they join. They come to Christ for their own salvation but think
little (and are told little) about the new nature of love they are to
welcome and cultivate in their hearts and relationships.
Most churches are so poor at practicing this "one-another" love that
they do not even consider telling new believers about their
responsibility and privilege and joy of loving others.
And this is His commmandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as He commanded us.
The two responsibilities of Christians, according to this verse, are:
- Believe in Jesus as the Messiah of the Jews and Gentiles
- Love one another
This belief was described in depth in John 15 in terms or our abiding
in Christ. Belief in Jesus is not only intellectual assent, but it is a
willful remaining in His tutelage. "Abide in me, and I in you," Jesus
said. (John 15.4-12)
Our abiding is a literal remaining in Jesus. It is a chosen direction and loyalty of our lives to stay in communion and in submission to Jesus.
- Our abiding results in fruit. John 15.5
- Our abiding results in answered prayer. John 15.7
- Our abiding results in obedience. John 15.10
- Our abiding results in joy. John 15.11
Another reason to love one another is because you won’t get it from the
world. Rather, we should not be surprised that the world hates us (1 John 3.13). We should beware of carving our comfortable, non-conflicting lifestyles in our world.
On the one hand, we can apparently live a lifestyle that brings respect
and awe from unbelievers; however, we must also expect antagonism and
opposition from those opposed to Christ, for we are constant reminders
to them of their own rebellion against Him. We smell like death to
those who are rejecting Christ (2 Corinthians 2.14-16).
In addition, "this present evil age" that is described refers to a
world system corrupted and influenced by satan in opposition to the
kingdom of God. A few years back, Chuck Colson wrote a book titled Kingdoms in Conflict, and it’s an apt description of spiritual reality.
Loving one another becomes, then, a strategy of conquering evil, of
displacing selfishness, and of enriching the lives of simple, everyday
folks – folks whom God created and loves deeply Himself. Who are we to
ignore, chastise, belittle, or overlook people who have the
fingerprints of God upon their lives?
Loving one another, then…
- We’re commanded to.
- It establishes community.
- It reveals the kingdom of God.
- It connects us with Christ. (abiding)
- It is spiritual warfare.
- It was modeled by Jesus.
Practically, how can you practice loving other believers in your own
church first, then in your community, and finally around the world?