Loving One Another in Community
by Christina Fox
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.
Christina Fox writes for a number of Christian ministries and publications including Revive Our Hearts, TGC, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and Ligonier Ministries. Her books include A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope Through the Psalms of Lament and Closer than a Sister: How Union with Christ Helps Friendships to Flourish.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to the interview "Terminal Illness: An Interview With Vicki Saadeh Mullen" so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
“You have six months, maybe a year;” explosive words that shatter families’ lives and dreams. . .
Such a statement rarely destroys just one person’s future. Loved ones are also broken. How do you face the next minute, let alone the coming months, knowing that each day might be your last with your husband, wife or child? How do you handle daily responsibilities? What about your children? Do you tell them? Do you try to make life normal? Do you tell the sick person how little time they have? How long do you look for a miracle cure? And what about faith, does it help? We asked Vicky Saadeh Mullen these questions and more in this honest dialogue about facing the terminal illness of a loved one. Her husband, David, was only 37 years old when he was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. They quickly realized that they had choices to make as their well-laid plans shattered into a million pieces. This is the story of how a young woman fiercely protected her husband in the darkest places of life and tenderly loved him into Heaven. We pray that this message will offer you hope. No matter how painful or difficult the journey, God is faithful and you can trust Him.
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Contact Sharon with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.