Loving One Another in Community
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:10-11)
Last year, I found my kids these fun Star Wars Valentines. They had cute sayings like, "Join the heart side" and "You're my only hope."
It's interesting how a concept like "love" can be reduced to phrases like, "Be mine," "True love" and "One and only." Certainly, it's fun and sweet to give one another cards and gifts with such phrases. But for the believer, love is more than cute sayings and heart-shaped candies. It’s even more than a feeling or an emotion. It has less to do with what we say and more about what we do for one another.
The Apostle John had a lot to say about love and focused a good section of 1 John to it. He taught that if we love God, we will also love one another.
Love for Others from 1 John
God is love: "Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love" (1 John 4:8). To understand what love is, we have to look to God because He is love. This doesn’t mean that love equals God; rather, it means that love is such an integral part of God’s character, all He does is done out of love. John goes on to describe God's love, "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him" (1 John 4:9). God showed us what love is by the greatest act of love: giving us his Son.
Love is rooted in the gospel: We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. He set his love upon us, not because of anything we had done, but because of His love for us. Out of love, He sent His Son into the world to redeem us from sin. Through His Spirit, He brought us from death to life, gave us the gift of faith, and made us His child. Apart from the work of God in us, we would not have love for God or others. Our love for others is rooted in what God has done for us through Christ.
Because God loves us, we ought to love one another. "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:11-12). The love we have for others is a natural overflow of our love for God. We can’t help but love one another; the love of God in us compels us to do so. That’s why it's a litmus test of our faith. "If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us" (1 John 4:12).
Love reveals itself in action: "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. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth" (1 John 3:16-18). Love is more than saying, "I love you." It is revealed in the way we treat others. When we lay down our lives for one another, sacrificing time, effort, money, and our very selves, it demonstrates our love. We show our love to others in the church by meeting one another’s needs, bearing each other’s burdens, and caring for one another’s hurts.
Love is more than a catch phrase, it is a life poured out for another, as Christ emptied His life for us. Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us love one another.
By Christina Fox by Guest Writer
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