The Life is in The Love

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

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.

This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.This is how we recognize the Spirit of truthand the spirit of falsehood.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command:Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

-1 John 3:11-4:21 (NIV)

I believe that the life is in the love.  How is your love life?  Are you living in the love?  

Are you living the life of God's love lived out by loving others?  The life is in the love.  Jesus came to give us life and that life is expressed through love.

The definition of a Christian is someone who is loved and loves.  We receive God's love and then love others.  That is what it is all about.

Being born again (John 3:16) is not just an event, but a life.  You say you are born again or born from above, but show me the life.  The born again, born anew life is a life of love.

There are a wide variety of styles, forms, personalities, and emphasizes among Christians, but the commonality is love.  The love is from God, through Christ.  Christians are loving people, in many forms and styles.  At least, they are supposed to be.  We all can celebrate each other, because we have his love and we love.  Unity, not uniformity.

Notice all this talk about love from John, who calls himself, "the disciple whom Jesus loved".  Each of the New Testament letters or epistles were answering something.  They are written to address problems in the regional church.

Imagine if people were emphasizing something else besides love, as the message from God and the way of the new life in Christ.  In the beginning of the passage I have above, in verse 11 of chapter 3, John reminds his readers that the message about the Christian life is, "love one another".  In marked contrast is the way of Cain, who cut the throat of his brother; which John bluntly says was, "of the evil one", which is referring to Satan.

If you know the story, which John recites, Cain murdered his brother over his brother's righteousness which was played out in the way he made an offering to God.  Cain had hate, rather than love, for his brother.  John makes the application that you can not hate your brother and have eternal life residing in you.

There is a lot of hate in the world and many Christians hate other Christians, to which John is saying that these are not really Christians.  Hate that Christians have for other Christians is masked in contempt, ridicule, sarcasm, judgement, and condemning critique.  The sectarianism that says that we have it right and other so-called Christians are wrong, is not love and is not Christ.

It is a given that the world, or the spirit of the world, hates Christians.  But for Christian to hate Christian is preposterous and disconnected from Christ.

There is a line in a song, "You don't know me, but I'm your brother".  We have brothers and sisters from other mothers, but of the same father.  Have you noticed that God loves variety?  He invented the concept.

If we have the love, we are not threatened by the differences in different tribes within the body of Christ.  We meet in the absolute belief in Christ, his person, his laying down his life for us.  We follow him by laying down our lives for others, in him.

A human point of view is to put knowledge before love, but for the Christian, love comes first.  The person who puts knowledge before love, in the name of spirituality is not following Christ.

Well meaning people can fall into the trap of following knowledge, but not following Christ.  They say they are following Christ, but they are all about their knowledge: doctrines, beliefs, theology, and ecclesiology.

Their gospel is the gospel of their set of beliefs, their church, or their theology.  They call men and women to their beliefs, and to their church or denomination or branch in the tree of the whole church which they don't necessarily recognize.  They are selling their type of Christianity and saying that their type is where the life is.

But the life is not in the knowledge, even if it is experiential knowledge.  The life is in the love.  The life is in the person of Jesus Christ, who came, who lived, who died, who rose, who ascended, and today intercedes for his church.

The life of Christ is not just something you read and write or say.  It is something you do.  We can talk and write and read all we want, but what is really important is what we do; how we love.

And real love is not just in words written or spoken.  Real love is actions: loving deeds.  When what you do is for the other person and is sacrificial on your part, that my be genuine love.  You give up convenience, your time, your energy, your monies or possessions for someone else.  That's genuine love.

The love we have is rooted in Jesus, who loved when he was here, living in the flesh, as a fully human being.  In our lives, we are carrying on with the love that he had when he walked the earth.  The fact that Jesus lived in human flesh and loved, and then calls us to live our lives in love, is the bedrock of our living.

To believe that Jesus was not human or that Jesus of Nazareth, born of the virgin Mary, was not the Son of God, who is Messiah; is heresy and not Christianity.  If we lose sight of Jesus as a man, who taught love, who taught how to love God and love people; we are missing what Christianity is all about.

The life is in the love.  He lives in us and teaches us how to love, how to live loved by Father and how to love others.  The life is in the love.

Jesus Christ came in the flesh to redeem our humanity.  In our flesh, we love others, because he is in us.  We give our human presence and we touch people with our human bodies, which Christ is in.

The human body is good and Christ uses our bodies to touch this world.  We are his missionaries, his hands, his feet, his eyes and ears, and his voice speaks through us to the world today.  He has redeemed us, including all of our bodies to use for his purpose.

The voice of God speaks through God's people who are in Christ and whom Christ is in.  And the message is one of love, unconditional love and sacrificial love.  We often judge people before loving them, but Christ loves people, and no matter what their sin or their troubles, he calls them to himself and loves them with compassion and mercy.

The test of Christianity, if you are a Christian, is how you love.  The life is in the love.

The playground, playing field, or practical working out of Christ's life in our lives is in the life of love.  "How are you loving?", is the test.  And it starts at the doorway of God loving me.

I am loved and I in turn love others and repeat.  That is the simplicity and depths of the Christian life.  The life is in the love.