Summary: A message to a contemporary service on loving God and neighbor
Love One Another
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
Certainly one of the hallmarks of Christianity is the demonstration of love toward one another. Further down in the chapter we find, “If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar.” If we are to walk as professing Christ, we are to love one another because He first loved us. We were not very lovable, in fact, are not lovable now. Yet, He looks beyond our faults and sees our need. We were in need of His love and grace.
The world looks at us for a sign of Jesus. Who is He really? What is Christianity all about? He is love. Christianity is love, love for one another and all men. Jesus said “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
In what ways do we demonstrate the love of Christ to one another?
• We accept one another.
I love the writing of Paul in Philemon regarding Onesimus. Onesimus was a runaway slave that belonged to Philemon. After running away, he became a devoted Christian, tending to Paul’s needs. He sends this letter to Philemon via Onesimus. Listen to what he writes - Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul-an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus- I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. I am sending him-who is my very heart-back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good- no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord. So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.
What a beautiful exhortation to accept one another. Here is a person that the world would look down on. He is not only a slave, but a runaway slave. This is a man of poor position and poor reputation. Paul puts him in a position of esteem – a brother!
Are we accepting of one another, or do we tend to be discriminate on who we associate with? Look with me at a passage in James. I’m using “The Message – Remix” version of this because of how poignant it sounds in today’s vernacular.
James 2:1-5 (The Message – Remix)
My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, “Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!” and either ignore the street person or say, “Better sit here in the back row,” haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?
Listen dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God.
• We are patient with one another (longsuffering in KJV)
Eph 4:1-3 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.