Five Minute Devotions: 1 John 4
The perfect church is the one in which there are no people. As a pastor, let me tell you: ministry would be easy if it wasn’t for all the people. People cause problems. It’s in their nature. Differences in culture, language, social and ethnic backgrounds, status, and financial class make for a diverse body of Christ, but one that doesn’t always understand the rest of it. Beyond that, even two people who are very much like one another can still not get along very well.
As such, it is no surprise that John admonition in 1 John 4 is to love one another. The church had undergone significant growth in just a generation. It had brought together some unlikely bedfellows and loving one another and getting along were fairly new concepts.
How We Love (The Mechanism)
So how is a diverse body, full of former enemies, supposed to get along and build the Kingdom? Not through natural ability or human innovation and intuition. John bases our ability to love in the supernatural indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Our togetherness in Christ transcends our individuality. In 1 John 4:12:
No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and his love is made complete in us. – 1 John 4:12
Our love isn’t a purely human love. It’s a love made possible through the Spirit. It’s a love that shows God to the world because it is a love that confuses the world. How can there be such a breakdown of socio-economic class? Jews dine with Samaritans. The rich learn from the poor. The freedman washes the feet of the slave. What sort of upside-down kingdom is this? It is one driven by supernatural love.
How We Love (The Process)
This supernatural love is manifested in the type of love shown by Jesus. Little wonder that the love of God should show itself as sacrificial love of Christ.
Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. – 1 John 4:10
Our love for each other should be mutual, but not contingent. If a brother or sister ceases to love me, I am not free to stop loving them. If they harm me, I must still love. When they demean me, I must still love. Their lack of love cannot justify mine.
The Results of Love
This type of love will make the world pay attention. People see God through us. If we claim to be a Christian, then we claim to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Our actions, then, are reflections of that Spirit in us. The world judges our God by our actions.
God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. – 1 John 4:9
Our life comes through him. What we say will be filtered through him. We become his spokesperson, for good or bad, by what we do. We are to be revealers of his love.
Father, may we reveal your love for an unloving world by showing our love to our brothers and sisters. Guide us in acts of supernatural love that we might show your grace and power.
John’s purview here is love within the Christian community. Can we apply John’s words to the world?
How can our churches eliminate conflict and better live out this life of love?
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