Growing in the love of God leads to relational unity


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)

Explore More

What’s your understanding of the church?

The Bible uses various images to describe the church, to help us understand its many facets. When I came across this meme a few years back, it stayed with me, because it helped me better understand the church as a type of ‘spiritual gym’ which I am a part of, because it’s a space where I can receive God and other people’s help, to keep working on my many dysfunctions and become healthier over time. It also helps overcome false images of the church – like the understanding that it is an exclusive club for those who claim to be perfect or morally superior than others.

Growing in a Relationship of Mercy as couples

Through experiencing my wife’s love when I fail /least deserve it, has made me more grateful for our relationship, because it has taken away the fear of being punished /rejected for my failures. I also feel closer to her as a result. And it has helped me to become more merciful myself.

Witnesses of Jesus’ Resurrection

The theme of ‘witnesses’ – people who’ve experienced something – speaks to something that is really distinctive to the Christian faith. Christianity is not a philosophy – though it can incorporate philosophy; it’s not primarily a mysticism – though it can incorporate mysticism; it’s not a religion that comes welling up out of natural experience – though it can accommodate that. Christianity is about something that happened; and there were witnesses of it. Without that, Christianity falls apart.