1 John 3 v 19 - 24a

It is natural for all believers at some point in their lives to wonder if they are really Christians. The gift is so incredible and so little deserved we would have to be extremely arrogant to accept it without a second's thought. John's test of true believer-ship is love. If we have that sense of love welling up in our hearts when we think of our neighbours and those we meet at work or for anyone who is one of life's victims, we can be sure that the love of Christ is within us. For John, it is not so much having the correct theology and being narrowly orthodox in our dogma, but in having a heart that causes us to reach out to those we would not naturally be interested in. When our hearts do occasionally condemn us, we can remind ourselves that God is greater than our hearts and He knows our sins and our love, which gives Him the sympathy which can understand and forgive. Remember that we principally know who God is through the way Jesus lived and spoke and He reached out consistently to the broken. It was only those who thought they were sorted and could lord it over others less fortunate that Jesus condemned. Our relationship with God hinges on two fundamental areas: 1. We must believe in the name of God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We may think that is obvious and simple, but remember that 'Name' means to believe and rely on His nature and character. We accept Him as He truly is in all that we do in life. 2. We must love one another. Jesus gave this commandment to His disciples in John 13 v 34 and as His disciples we are called to love each other with the same selfless, sacrificial and forgiving love that Jesus loved us. When we put these two commands together, we find the great truth that the Christian life depends on a correct balance of right belief and right conduct. We cannot have one without the other. Our belief is not real belief until translated into action and our action has no divine authority or power unless it is based on belief. At times, people within the churches I have led have accused me of running social clubs. I would categorically deny this because I preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified, which raises the fellowship up far beyond what a social club can achieve and, at its peak, sets it in the heavenly places.

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