Picture a comic strip where Mom and Dad go out for the evening and leave their oldest child in charge of the younger ones. As they walk out the door, the kids smile pleasantly and wave goodbye. But the minute the door closes, the children start fighting with each other and tearing the house apart. We could compare the children in this image to members of the early Church whom John was addressing – and maybe even to us as members of the Church today.
1 John 4:7-10
Let us love one another. (1 John 4:7)
Jesus had left his apostles only a few decades earlier, but already they were plagued by discord and division. John wrote to the Christian community because he wanted them to restore and deepen their fellowship with God and with one another. To foster this unity, he reminded them of two things that can also help us today.
First, John told them that God’s redeeming love for us springs from his own initiative, not ours. His love for us is not based on whether we are right or wrong. It’s not based on how hard we have worked to build his kingdom. It’s just who he is – love!
Second, God loves that other person with whom we have major disagreements just as deeply as he loves us. If we stay rooted in this assurance every day, we will find it easier to love the people who upset us. We will find the strength and humility we need to forgive one another and to work together for the good of the Church.
The next time you encounter a Christian who doesn’t think like you or who doesn’t seem very loving, remember this truth: “Love is of God” (1 John 4:7). It does not come to us as a result of our human perfection. It does not come only to those who are likeminded. And it certainly does not come in just half-measures to the weak, the sinful, or the unbelieving. It’s allowing the love of God to take root in and grow in us, that leads to Christian unity. You won’t be able to have close relationships with every other Christian, but you can still walk in relational unity with them, because of God’s love.
Can you respond to your “enemies” in a way that reflects God’s love? It’s not easy, but every effort you make to do this – and every prayer you lift up asking for God’s grace to help you – is a powerful sign that God’s love has taken root in you.
“Lord, help me to turn to you to receive your compassion and love for those in your family, when it’s difficult. Help me make room in my heart, for your love to take root and grow in me, so that my relationships bring you glory.”
(Inspired by: ‘Word Among Us’ – India edition)