As believers, our love for one another should be able to transcend any perceived slight or offense. Our love should reach across the aisle to apologize if we have hurt someone’s feelings, or unintentionally wounded them in any way. Without love at the core of a church like ours—a diverse church with people of all races, many nations and cultures, and yes, even various political perspectives—without love, we will never survive. Like Paul, my prayer is that our love will grow more and more.
What do people think, when they think of you? Do they think you are an encourager or do they think you are a complainer? Do they think you are joyful or do they you are sullen and brooding? Do they think you are generous or do they think you are miserly and stingy? Do they think you are pleasant to be around, or would they rather avoid you? Like it or not, when our name comes up in conversation, people who know us, immediately think something when they think about us.
When I was in my early 20s, I read the book Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis. As the title indicates, in this work Lewis tried to get to the core of Christianity, and I think he did a pretty good job. He laid a good foundation by outlining the key elements of the Christian faith. To do this, he wrote a small book of 190 pages; however, Jesus distilled all of the Law and the Prophets into only two sentences.
This letter from the Elder is short and comes to the point quickly; the point being that we must not allow the poison of false teaching to infect our lives, our home, or the local fellowship of believers. He had already seen the damage done by the false doctrines of those denying that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh, and he was determined to do all he could to protect other churches and Christian fellowships from falling prey to these charlatans who were spreading deception and error. So being perhaps the last living apostle at that time, John stepped-up and stepped-in to send a warning to the church.
Love is a topic of much discussion in movies, books, TV, songs, and poetry, but the concept itself has become so diluted and polluted in the English language that “love” has lost much of its meaning. For example, it is not unusual to hear someone say they love pizza in one breath, and then tell their spouse that they love them in the next breath. Furthermore, love is not merely emotion but it is a decision, or John could not instruct us to love one another. Love in its purest form, is not selfish or self-seeking and it does not come and go or rise and falls like waves on the ocean. In Scripture love is powerful, persuasive, and persevering. Ultimately, true love comes from God, overcomes fear, turns enemies into friends, and moves us to selfless acts of kindness and compassion.
It is to the faithful flock who remained that John is writing to encourage and assure them that the gospel he preached, and the message by which they were saved, was the truth. He wanted them to know that they could be assured of their salvation through faith in Jesus, which manifested in their love for one another. As you can imagine, some in the church were conflicted. They were struggling to know with certainty that they were right to stay with John and the church, rather than going along with the deception of these persuasive teachers. To the faithful John says, “First of all, you can tell that they are wrong, because they do not live in the light according to the commandments of God, and second, because they are lacking in love.”
Have you ever noticed that there is world of difference between people who call themselves Christians? Of course, we would expect to see significant differences between those who are Christian and those who are not, but in case you haven’t noticed there is a big divide even among those who call themselves Christians (Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, Fundamentalist, Evangelical), and sometimes we look at each other and wonder how a person can do what they do, say what they say, believe what they believe, and still have the audacity to call themselves a Christian.
FIRST JOHN: TRUTH IN A WORLD OF DECEPTION “Love’s Restraint” By Mark E. Hardgrove, PhD Text: 1 John 2:15-17, NKJV 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the...