The Reality of Christian Love
There are some very important differences on how Christians love, but what are they?
Seriously, What is Love?
The Reality of Christian Love
1 John 4:19-21
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:19-21
1 John 4:19-21 demonstrates 3 realities of Christian Love.
The 1st reality of Christian Love is that ...
We are divinely inspired to love. (4:19)
19 We love because he first loved us.
Two are two obvious contexts to this verse that I want to make sure are obvious …
THE context of this is love is of us … people!! Christ love for us is a LOVE OF MANKIND … therefore it necessarily applies not just to GOD but specifically to MANKIND … GOD’s love is manifested, demonstrated by how He loved us (more on that in a second) but point I’m making here is that it is a love of PEOPLE … it’s a love of HUMANS – US!!!!! He is not talking about how we love our cat, love our hobbies, possessions, love walking in the woods, working out, reading a book, playing a guitar or preaching … this is necessarily A love of PEOPLE … we need to understand the specific context here … he first loved US … the us being PEOPLE! …
The 2nd obvious context is that
The love John is writing of here is necessarily HOW Christ loved us! We are not talking about the love of the world…the love that is IN the sinful world, but rather the kind of love the FATHER has GIVEN to this love…an out of this world love!!! … He gave that love to those that He could see ever deep dark sin … every despicable thought, every evil selfish and lustful desire … when He looks on us there is no shadow or turning that hides who we are … no fig leaf can cover us … He knows the deepest darkest most disgusting things we have ever done or thought … and YET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!...HE. Loves. Us! But let me make sure the obvious here is indeed obvious …that is HOW he loves us is totally understood:
He loved us first, even though we refused to love Him.
Note: If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 4:10)
He loves us even though we continually fall short of loving HIM!
Note: 19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure ou r heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. (1 John 4:19-20)
He loves us not simply with words of affirmation but with the sacrifice of Himself!
Note: 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. (1 John 4:10)
Putting that all together … John is saying that we only love as Christ loves …
We only have the ability to love people the way Christ loves people BECAUSE He gives us that love!
Note: CHRISTIAN love is totally sourced in and from GOD but this kind of love is NOT of this world …there is no form of it in this world …that is the kind of love that father has for us!!!! … begs the question of whether or not how we love actually matches up with how Christ loves us or is it just a religious version of the corrupt love that already exists in the world!
The 2nd reality of Christian Love is that ....
We are liars if we don’t love Christians. (4:20)
20 If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar (theme of 2:9-11; 3:11-24; 4:7-21; 5:2); for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
There is something specific here … he is talking about LOVING fellow CHRISTIANS … we have 500 plus churches in Gaston County because of this!!
… not that we don’t love non-Christians!!!!!! … John is just dealing with those trying to justify not loving other Christians. It is totally inconsistent for a Christian to not love a world Jesus died to save. But it is outlandish that a Christian would not love someone who is in Christ with them!!! To not love another Christian is to NOT love JESUS … because we are one with JESUS!!! …
Think about it … if you don’t love my wife and kids then you don’t love me … that is if you hate on them then you are hating on me … Jesus said this clearly in Luke 10:16 “If they reject you they reject me” … point being we as CHRISTIANS are ONE with CHRIST and therefore if we don’t love each other then we don’t love CHRIST …
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, (Colossians 1:24)
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27)
If you do not love the physical manifestation of Jesus right in front of you, which is the church, then how can you claim that you love Jesus!!! … its just totally inconsistent to the point that you are actually lying to yourself and everybody else.
The 3rd reality of Christian Love is that ...
We are authoritatively commanded to love other Christians. (4:21)
21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (4:19-21)
It’s a COMMAND … Jesus was clear that we are commanded to love as he loves us!!! (John 13:34) … but here John is emphasizing the fact that Jesus prioritized Christians loving each other!!!
Love is an action that is not a beating of the wind but an intentional, willful, tangible action towards someone specific.
… it is an active thing we DO … it is a VERB!!!!! … THEREFORE we have to press in to community … LOVE TAKES EFFORT and DISCIPLINE and its why HE COMMANDS IT!!!!!! … when you command something you are giving a call to action. And we need to understand it is GOD commanding … this command has ULTIMATE authority … its not given to us as something to consider or pray about … we are told to DO IT!!!!
Practically that means we cannot settle for watching this on TV … I understand some have to do that right now and that’s totally understandable … but we can settle for this!!!! …
And I’m not just talking about worship but about not being lazy and not loving people in the church.
As such Love involves a connection. Something visceral. Love is a description of the energy and effort we give to build support and give life! You willfully devot your time, words, actions and emotions; not randomly but intentionally, and with specificity, or its not love. It’s not love if there is no concern for the one you are giving it to; therefore having one you can see, hear and touch that is tangibly in front of you to love and see your love land on! If you can’t do that then you can’t do it with one you cannot see here in touch that you can’t physically go two and physically see your love land on.
It takes 21 days to develop a Habit….but you can break it in ONE DAY … skip life group one time and BANG you have to push yourself to do it again…skip your diet one day and BANG … takes 21 days to build that habitat again … workout out same thing …
So point here is that COVID has unleashed the individual spirit that we as Americans have … we say we want community but we don’t discipline ourselves to do it … to ACTUALLY love people … we as Americans are infamous for saying we WANT something but make no effort to actually DO IT (savings, weight loss, etc.!)
I’m not talking about trying to actively and intensely love everybody in Venture … that’s impossible … we need to love each other at some level and that certainly involves at least gathering to worship with each other!!!! …
… but more importantly we need to get active LOVING people specific people in the church … in a group, the students you work with in the student ministry or the kids and families of the kids you serve in the children’s ministry … or the people in your life group … or just getting IN a GROUP!!!
WARNING: Don’t weaponize love!
That is don’t demand how others have to show you love for you to love them in return … that is by definition not Christ’s love! That would defy how Christ FIRST Loved us … the love you claim to have if you are a Christian!
Not talking about the tough love we have to show people who are destroying themselves or your family or the church … we are told to exclude divisive people from the church and that would include your family and friends … BUT there is a fine line in our hearts between tough LOVE and punishment and/or laziness … SO …
CHALLENGE: Who are the Christians you are not actionably loving?
Show video of the guy bashing preachers who obeyed the state stay at home order … then flip it and talk about how I’ve gone overboard and done the same things … where my rebuke of other Christian preachers was not a humble rebuke by an insult and an attack. To rebuke a brother is love … that is different than to humiliate or attack.
So who is the person who you is a Christian … somebody in the church … somebody at work … a neighbor … a family member … your spouse even that you are not loving as Christ loves you…that you are not actionably loving as Christ who first loved you and who never stops loving, loves!!!