“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.“
1 John 4:11
There is a saying:
“To dwell above with saints we love, that will be glory. To dwell below with the saints we know, now, that’s a different story.”
According to the statement above, it will be wonderful to dwell and be with all of God’s saints in heaven, but on earth, it is not so glorious. It is actually a burden for most of us. Why is that? Because we still have this body of death clinging to us. We still have this sin nature that desires our own way and doesn’t love others as we should. In 1 John, his purpose in writing this letter is to assure them of their salvation. All of us question from time to time whether we are saved or not. Well, one of the surest ways that Scripture gives us to assure us that we are saved and are the children of God is that we love those who have been born of God. In 1 John 3:14, John says, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.” John is telling us here that if we do not love the people of God, then we are not Christians. He went on to say in 1 John 4:20, “If someone says, “I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, he cannot love God whom he has not seen.” This is what the Bible calls, “deception.” He said in 1 John 2:26, “These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you.” Again in 1 John 3:7, “Little children, let no one deceive you.” Deception was coming from the false teachers. That is what they do. They try to deceive you into their false teachings. They are controlled by Satan himself who desires to lead you away from the teaching of Scripture into a lie that actually leads you from God and to yourself. This is why John writes this to them. I can just hear these false teachers and their lies they spew. “You don’t have to love those people. Loving God is enough.” “Aren’t those people who sit next to you on Sunday mornings hypocrites?” “You can still love God and not love them.” These are all lies from Satan. You cannot love God and not love His people. That is like saying, “Oh, Pastor Bobby, I love you so much. I love being around you, but I just can’t stand your wife Cheryl. She gets on my nerves.” The problem with that is that Cheryl and I are one-flesh. It is as if we are one person. She is in me and I am in her. You can’t have one without the other. Same with God and His children. We are all one with the Father. No matter how hypocritical or whatever issues we have, we are still one body with Christ. His blood has covered our sins and has saved us from eternal hell. Therefore, you are a liar if you love God and not His children. You are not a Christian no matter what you believe.
Getting back to our Scripture above, “If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” That would seem to be the correct response. If God has loved us which he demonstrated clearly on the cross by dying and forgiving us our trespasses, what should be our response to those whom He died for? John give us the answer in 1 John 3:16, “By this we know love, because he laid His life down for us. And we also ought to lay our lives down for the brethren.” We ought to truly and genuinely love and care for each other. We are to meet the needs if someone has a need. We are to pray and continually ask God to bless our brothers and sisters. We are to make every effort to get along and serve one another for the sake of the gospel and the un-believers who are watching. We are to love each other the way Christ loved us. He loved us by not being served, but by serving and giving His life for us. (Mark 10:45) If you say you are a Christian, it will be demonstrated by how you love one another. I’m not saying that this love is perfect, but this love as imperfect as it is, is still love. It is my prayer that all of us take this passage to heart and pray, “Lord, am I a Christian? Do I truly love my brothers and sisters? Do I desire to be a part of a body and use my gifts to serve one another? When a disagreement arises, do I work it out and forgive and love? Or do I hold resentment and bitterness and no longer speak or be around that person? These are all ways (and more) we can truly tell if we are born of God. Beloved, we are a young Church. Still growing and learning and trying to find out who we are? We will have issues with other brothers and sister, we will experience times when we will be offended and hurt. It is in these times that we really find out who we are and who’s we are. James said, “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be mature, complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4) It is in these moments that God is making you. This is called Sanctification. He is using other people and issues that arise to conform you into the image of His Son. 1 Peter 2:21-23, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth: who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” Being conformed into the image of Jesus will cause your flesh to raise his ugly voice and say, “NO!!!!” I don’t want to forgive! I don’t want to love them! I don’t want to sacrifice again! Its not fair! This is when we have to heed the words of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:16, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” Or in Galatians 5:24, “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” I will leave you with the words of Jesus Himself in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”