Christian Love

March 23, 2013


We have written and sung about love from our earliest history. Yet, in our recent history the song said it was the only thing that there was just too little of. The Beatles said that love was all you need. Candy and card companies prosper from our trying to demonstrate and profess our love. It is often more elusive than a butterfly and has been called the same. While it is so elusive and intangible, people have given all they owned and at times their lives in an effort to secure it. Another song says that they will know we are Christians by our love. Yet, I am afraid that we are better known for our political position and our stand on homosexuality and abortion than for our love. Our text twice says that God is love then why is there so little love in His church if the folks there claim to be His children? I submit that we must love the brethren because loving is living. (Vs. 7-16)

1 John 4
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

There is no spiritual life started without it. (Vs 7-12) If God did not love there would have been no life. If He was not love and did not love, there would have been no plan of salvation. Human life would have ended with Adam and Eve. Instead, God replaced the first Adam who brought forth death with the second Adam that we might have life through Him. God so loved that He gave His Son and when we are born-again, we receive that love into our hearts. Because God is love and it is His nature then it is only logical to assume that any progeny of His would have the same nature. Our new creation is created in His nature so what else can we receive as a new nature, but love?
If we do not have love, we do not know God. Bang! The line is drawn and the box is small. When God loves it manifests or makes itself plainly seen hence the Incarnation. If His life is in us then love is in us and it must clearly manifest itself or it is not there at all and we are deceived. That may cause some to wince and say, “Ouch!” but it is the truth.
The joy and sheer thrill of this is that we did not have to love Him first or to be a loving people first to know Him. If either were a prerequisite to knowing God, we all would fail. God loved us first! God took the initiative and sent His Son because of His love. While we were unloving and fist shaking sinners Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8) Hallelujah for the Cross and the love of God!!
So, here is the logic for loving the brethren. God loved us first and sent His Son to be the propitiation or payment for our sins while we were sinning for all we were worth. He saved us and put His nature in us and that nature is love. Know love know God. No love, no God. Therefore, if we know God and His love it is natural that we would love our brethren. If I look at all that the love of God has done for me how can I not love another person for whom Christ died?
No man has seen God at any time. Adam and Eve walked with a pre-incarnate Christ as did Enoch, Abraham and Joshua. Moses saw his hinder parts. Isaiah saw Christ high and lifted up, but no man has seen the Trinity. Christ could say that having seen Him they had seen the Father because Christ and the Father share the same essence with separate personalities but they had not physically seen the Father or the Holy Spirit. We will not see the complete Trinity until we arrive in Heaven. Then we will see God as we are seen.
Despite all that He dwells or lives with us. If we love one another His love is perfected or consummated in us. That is another manifestation of His love and proof of our life in Him. It is how we know that we know Him. We must love the brethren because there is no abundant life and assurance without it. (Vs. 13-16)

13Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
14And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
15Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
16And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

We can only be fruitful in our service and have full assurance of salvation when the Holy Spirit controls us. He is the one who leads us into all truth and will glorify Christ by showing us the things of Christ. (John 16:13,14) He is the seal and testimony of God dwelling in us and what else could He manifest in us but love? God has given us the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. He does that through the Holy Spirit. (2 Tim. 1:7)
John wrote of his and the other disciples’ testimony of Christ being sent by the Father to be the Saviour of the world. He walked and talked with Him and saw His power. We do not experience Christ exactly the way John did, but we can bear the same testimony. He does walk and talk with us. He speaks to us through His word and His Spirit. Moreover, when we are walking in love we experience His power in us as His love flows through us spilling out unto others.
True love only comes from God. Unless you dwell in Him, you cannot experience true love. Unless you confess or say the same thing about Him that the Bible and the Father says about Him you are not of God. Unless you acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, you do not dwell in God or love. There are a lot of folks that use the name Jesus and talk like they know Him but they do not say the same thing about Jesus that the Bible says. They make Him less than what the Word says and exalt some other thing or person above Him. They have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. God has drawn another line and we are either on the wrong side of that line or we are not. Which side are you on?

When you confess that Jesus is the Son of God then you know and believe the love God has for you because it resides in His Son and in you if you are in the Son. If you know that God is love and you live your life in that love then God lives or dwells in you. If He dwells in you then you must love the brethren because loving is fulfilling our responsibility. (Vs. 11)

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

We touched on this before, but it bears repeating. We are indebted to God’s love. We owe God everything, but He wants nothing but our love. We would be lost and without hope if God was not love. So often when we deal with our brethren we want our rights and demand justice forgetting what debt we were forgiven. (Matt 18) We have no rights. We are bought with a price. Justice would put us in a burning Hell. We are indebted to the one who set us free by His love and we are indebted to our brethren. We cannot thrive without the love of God so how can we deny that love to one who is our spiritual brother or sister? He or she deserves love even when he or she is undeserving because we receive the love of God though we are undeserving.

17Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
19We love him, because he first loved us.

We must love the brethren because loving is growing. (Vs. 17-18) It gives us boldness. When our love is matured or perfected it gives us boldness in this world and the next. The Apostles could speak so openly without fear of men because they knew the love of God. They knew that they were accepted in the Beloved. (Eph. 1:6) They could look death in the face and laugh because they knew that death was only a doorman to the gates of glory! They did not fear the judgement that follows death because they knew the Judge and were loved by Him.

Why then are we not as bold? Many Christians fear death as much as any unbeliever. They are not perfected in love. They need to reach that level of maturity or growth because it removes fear. Fear has torment or punishment and we now have no condemnation if we are in Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1) We were raised in a society where love was often dispensed or withheld depending on our actions. We were loved when we were good and not loved when we were bad. Therefore we go through our lives consciously or subconsciously fearing rejection by those we love. Sadly, there are times when we experience rejection when dealing with other humans. I have experienced my share of rejection by family, Christians, and non-Christians alike. Happily, they are not God, and their ways are not His ways and their thoughts are not His thoughts. (Isa. 55)
God who bought us with His Son’s blood knew what He was getting when He did it. He did not buy a pig in a poke. He knew what we were and what we would do in the future. Yet when we cried out for salvation He heard us and adopted us. Indeed, we only love Him because He first loved us, In the language of the day using the term adoption meant that we could never be forsaken or disowned. You could disinherit a natural born child because after all you had no real choice in what you received. However, if you adopted a child you made that choice willingly and you could never disinherit that child. Praise God that I am adopted or I would have been disinherited and tossed into Hell long ago!!! God is so much more merciful and patient than humans including preachers whom seem to enjoy tossing people into outer darkness and seeking to rule their flocks by fear. Jesus came to perfect the love of God in us and to cast out fear!
As He is so are we in this world!!! What is He? He is the beloved of the Father. He dwells in the Father’s love. He has no fear of the Father. The Father has given everything into His hands and we are co-inheritors of the Kingdom. Where is the fear in that? What torment or punishment lies in those realities?
You look at your life and see failures and you expect God to come into the room at any minute and beat you senseless and then cast you into outer darkness. You are not made perfect in love. If that was His desire you would not be reading this nor would I be writing it. We would both be screaming in agony in Hell fire. God has no one to work with but failures. He knows our frame that it is but dust and that man at his very best is vanity. Find me one person in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Fame that did not have one or more failures in his spiritual life. David, a man after God’s own heart, failed in many ways. Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, had idol and women trouble and maybe some idle women trouble. Moses missed the land of milk and honey for his failure but we know he did not miss the Promised Land since he was with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jeremiah called God a liar. The failures of man only exalt the grace and love of God.
Yes, obedience is better than sacrifice and we should not sin that grace may abound. However, if you are living in tormented fear over your sin and failure then you need to seek the love of God and His forgiveness that you may be made perfect and lose that fear. Confession is admitting the truth about you and sin. It is not a since I was caught I might as well admit to it. It is saying that God was right when He forbade that activity and that He had our best interest in mind. He was not a killjoy. He was keeping us from things that would kill our joy. Say the truth about your sin and say goodbye to fear.

20If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
21And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. KJV

Speaking of truth, the last reason in this passage is that we must love the brethren because loving proves that we are truthful. (Vs. 20,21) To hate our brother and say we love God is a lie. Hmm, another small box and another line drawn. In case, you are wondering I am working on a sermon about drawing lines and small boxes, which is why I am pointing them out as we go in this passage. Call it a preview. C];-) }|> Here is a big line. You cannot love God and hate your brother.
For the Pharisees among us let me answer the question, “Who is my brother?” My pithy saying is that all men are my brothers through creation but some are my special brothers through re-creation. The passage speaks specifically of our Christian brethren, but we must never forget from where we came. Those lost folks out there are still our Adamic blood brothers and only by the grace of God have we become the sons of God. God still loves them and wants to adopt them as well. We were called to bring them to reconciliation with God not brow beat them with condemnation like they were some alien scum. Until we get to glory, we are more like them than God in our practical righteousness and maybe that scares us. We do not want to be affiliated with them in any way to remind us of our past without God. We are like the person who suddenly comes into wealth and wants nothing to do with the rest of his poor family. He even moves away so that no one in his new social life knows that he comes from poor white trash.
God did not tell us to reject them, but to win them. Yes, we cannot do the same things we did with them and we may have to interact with them in other ways that are different, but we are not to wash our hands of them. Christ’s blood can cleanse them also. We must not get so high and holy that we will not reach back into the cesspool of sin to drag out another poor soul. If we refuse to bring people into our churches because they do not dress as we do or maybe their children disrupt the service then we have missed the whole call of the Gospel. God is more concerned about dirty souls that need cleaned than clean carpets and walls of our meeting places that will be firewood when He returns. What do we love souls or buildings, sinners or dinners?
God made a world of many colors. We rejoice and glory in them and we array our clothes and homes in color. God made a church of many colors as well. Do I welcome only the brothers of my color into my meeting hall or do I not love my brother? A black man at my job likes to remind me from time to time that Sunday is the most segregated day of the week.
Sometimes that is caused by cultural preferences. The last church that I served in liked Southern Gospel and Country Gospel music. That genre is just a tad different than what is used in most black churches. In fact, I have had the privilege of preaching in several black churches and I tell you the truth that if you cannot preach after they get done singing you need to rethink your call. I have heard them sing, “I’ll Fly Away” but in a way that you were ready for the next flight out! I have heard it sung in some white churches and you wondered if they really believed it or were depressed about the concept. Consequently, some white folks would be uncomfortable with the style of worship used by my black brothers and honestly, my black brothers would fall asleep in many white churches. I know. I have done the same thing. My Latino brothers would be a bit bored as well.
It is one thing if people just choose different styles of worship, but if they are not welcome in a church because of color then we have a serious problem. I was called once and asked if our church allowed colored people to come there. I replied that we were open to Martians and anyone else desiring to come. She laughed. I chuckled with her, but in my heart, I was saddened that such a question had to be even asked about a church.
If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature and my brother. I must love whom God loves or I am a liar if I say that I love Him. Yes, we have disagreements with folks and because of some doctrinal issues, we must work in different fields rather than together but we are still to love them.
Before I finish, I would like to share one other story with you. I served for awhile at an inner city church teaching a 12-step program for emotional stability. When I was first asked if I would consider it, I was concerned about them accepting me. After, I am a cowboy hat, big buckle and boot wearin’ pickup drivin’ country singin’ redneck kind of guy. Most of my congregation was black and Hispanic. Would they even want to listen to a guy like me? I went willing to minister and tried to show them the love of Christ and ya know they actually loved this ole boy. We got along great.
I remember one of my black brothers starting to tell me something and he mentioned that this black guy with a white girl came in and he quickly added that it did not matter. Well, I stopped him and backed the truck up because I said it did matter or you would not have said it that way. I told him that skin color is only like a candy coating. I love peanut M&M’s and frankly, I do not care if they add a new color or not because all that I am concerned about is what is under that coating. I told him people are the same. The candy coating doesn’t matter. It is only what is inside that counts. I told him that I have loved chocolate all my life and he chuckled and said that he always loved vanilla. I said, see we should get along just fine since I’m vanilla and you’re chocolate. We laughed and hugged and I hope that brother never looks at white folks again without thinking of that chocolate lovin’ vanilla guy. I told my Hispanic brother that he was my butterscotch brother. I haven’t come up with a flavor for my Asian brothers.
Finally we cannot be truthful if we do not love our brothers and also to hate our brother is to be disobedient. We are commanded to love our brother. Christ said that if we loved Him would keep His commandments. In a way, this is another way of calling us a liar if we do not love our brothers. We say we know God and yet He is love and we do not love. We are liars. We say we love Christ and we do not keep His commandment to love our brothers. We are liars again! What else need be said? If you do not feel it, then be obedient until you do feel it. Follow the Golden Rule and treat your brother as you would be treated and you will find love growing in your heart as God rewards your obedience and perfects you in His love.
If we are to have the fullness of God’s blessing and assurance in our Christian life we must love the brethren. How’s your love life tonight? Do you have spiritual life? If not, seek it from the God of love. If you have life, is it full and abundant? How’s your assurance? Are you fulfilling your responsibility to God and your brother by loving? Are you bold or fearful? Are you walking in truth? It pleases John and God if you are walking in truth. (3 John 4:4)

1 John 1:4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full KJ

 

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