The two most difficult things to get straight in life are love and God. More often than not, the mess people make of their lives can be traced to failure or stupidity or meanness in one or both of these areas.
The basic and biblical Christian conviction is that the two subjects are intricately related. If we want to deal with God the right way, we have to learn to love the right way. If we want to love the right way, we have to deal with God the right way. God and love cannot be separated.
John’s three letters provide wonderfully explicit direction in how this works. Jesus, the Messiah, is the focus: Jesus provides the full and true understanding of God; Jesus shows us the mature working-out of love. In Jesus, God and love are linked accurately, intricately, and indissolubly.
But there are always people around who don’t want to be pinned down to the God Jesus reveals, to the love Jesus reveals. They want to make up their own style of love. John was pastor to a church (or churches) disrupted by some of these people. In his letters we see him reestablishing the original and organic unity of God and love that comes to focus and becomes available to us in Jesus Christ.
Dear Lord, Help us to understand what your love is so we realize how much you love us. Only then can we love like you love. In Jesus Name, Amen
What is love to you right now?
What does it mean to love another person?
Who is love to you? Who loves you best? Who loves you most?
What do you expect from someone who loves you?
What do others expect from us who say we love God?
After pondering these questions let’s dive in to dealing with love and God the right way…Here are the Highlights of John’s letters…of which there are three.
1 John 1 The Light
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
“If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
“If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”
1 John 2 – Jesus Paid for Our Sin With His Life
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
LOVE AND HATE
“This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.”
“Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.”
The world’s view of “love” is temporary, fickle and not comparable to God’s unchanging forever love.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
Satan is a liar and knows nothing about love.
“Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.”
1 John 3 – Lavished Love of God
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
“…we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”
“No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.”
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”
“This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”
“For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
“…this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”
1 John 4 Know God, Know Love
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
GOD AND LOVE ARE INSEPARABLE
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
WHAT KIND OF LOVE?
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
LOVE DRIVES OUT FEAR!
“This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
“We love because he first loved us.”
WE CANNOT LOVE AND HATE AT THE SAME TIME
“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
1 John 5 – Love overcomes!
“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”
“Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”
2 John – Walking in God’s Love
“Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.”
“…his command is that you walk in love.”
3 John – Encouragement to Continue to Walk in Love
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
“Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God.”
“Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.”
So there we have it! God and Love, real love, real truth, real life, are one in the same.
Bottom line: Love is of God, not of us.
How important it is to walk “in truth and love” (2 John 3) and hold the truth in love! To claim to love the truth and yet hate our brothers and sisters is to confess ignorance of what the Christian life is all about.
When God’s people love Him, the truth, and one another, then the Spirit of God can work in that gathering to glorify Jesus Christ. But when any member of that group, including the pastor, becomes proud and tries to take to hold full control, then the Spirit is grieved and He cannot bless. The church may outwardly appear successful, but inwardly it will lack the true unity of the Spirit that makes for a healthy fellowship.
Love God. Love Others. Love like Jesus loved us. This love is revolutionary and not of this world. God is Love.
“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” –Jesus