1 John 4 v 7 - 21

In this passage John asserts that the royal command from Jesus that we love each other was not some kind of strange merit mark for believers, but is at the essence of faith itself. He writes that only by our love for each other can others be aware that we are Christians: but, even more than that, we cannot be Christians and be without love, because the ability to love sacrificially is a central mark of our standing as children of God. We say that we love God, but if we hate a fellow believer, how can we love the invisible God who made that person in His image? You may have heard of the story of Corrie Ten Boon, who was in a concentration camp and her sister died there. She survived and became a preacher, travelling around telling her story in churches. One evening, a man came up to her who introduced himself as the ex-Commandant of her concentration camp. He had become a Christian and was of the firm belief that this would mean free and full forgiveness from someone who had suffered so much under him and yet now preached a message of forgiveness! He reached out his hand for her to shake it and for a small moment, she resisted. Where was the fairness in that? Then the Holy Spirit reminded her of what Jesus had done on the cross and that this man before her was her brother in Christ. She reached out her hand. Loving other believers can hurt. We are broken images of God and yet Christ's action on the cross stands supreme throughout history in defining sacrificial love. In one sense, He was not a victim, because He chose the way of the cross and He could have called on legions of angels to rescue Him, but He did not because He loved us. Lots of churches have verses which have been written across the wall at the front of the church. My church where I grew up had the verse here: 'The Father sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world'. To me, not quite as brilliant as John 3 v 16, but still powerful. The thing it misses out is the fact that it was all done through LOVE! John more than makes up for that in the verses which surround verse fourteen. There are also some challenges here: John declares that ANYONE who loves is a child of God. That means that: 1. Love has its origin in God. 2. It is only by knowing God that we truly learn to love and it is only by loving that we learn to know God. 3. It is by love that God is known. 4. God's love is demonstrated by Jesus Christ: ''I and the Father are one.'' 5. Human love is a response to divine love. 6. Love casts out fear. Fear is the emotion of someone waiting to be punished. Once we know God's true nature, fear is swallowed up in love. 7. Love of God and love of other people are indissolubly connected.

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