Saturday, January 19, 2013

How loving one another leads to God-centered Christianity

1 John 4:7  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

Yesterday we looked at what happens when we show partiality to one another from James 2:1-13.  We discovered that showing partiality is another way of saying "being a man-pleaser".  When churches excercise themselves in preferring one person or group over another, less love and man-centeredness results.  We discovered the outcomes of showing partiality from James:

1. Less love for Jesus.  James 2:1-4
2. Less love for God's glory.  James 2:5-7
3. Less love for God's Word.  James 2:8-11
4. Less love for one another.  James 2:12-13

Clearly James is warning his readers to not show preferential treatment in their dealings with one another.  Whenever we study warning sections in God's Word, it is God's way of warning us about what not to do.  Often it is instructive and helpful to turn to sections that are dealing with the same subject, urging us on what we need to do.  Exhortation is a form of communication that urges readers and listeners to perform a certain task, or to increase effort in a practice that they are already doing.  Warning sections in scripture urge readers to avoid certain practices or attitudes that can hurt their walk with the Lord.  Whenever we are dealing with sin, we need both warning and exhortation. 

Today we will look at John's first Epistle, noting his blueprint for a God centered church by the repeated command to "love one another". 

How Loving One another is the antidote to showing partiality
In 1 John 4:7-21 we see John painting a picture of a church that is to excercise the Great Command to "love one another".  When we speak of "loving one another", human love is not the love we are excercising, but rather God's love. 

As you note the outcomes of a church showing partiality above, what will the outcomes be for a church that chooses to simply love one another as God loved them through the sending of Jesus Christ? A more loving church will result.  Specifically, four outcomes will result, corresponding to the four negative outcomes we saw yesterday when we show partiality.

1. More love, not less love for Jesus.   1 John 4:7-9
John cannot help but to write about Christ act and accomplishments on the cross - since His exhortation to "love one another" is based off of God's supreme act in the sending of Jesus.  As we love one another in accordance to ther work of the cross, Jesus Christ will become more dearly loved.  By loving one another, rather than being partial, yields a greater flow of the love and power of Jesus Christ through His people - like electricity through a light bulb.

2. More love, not less love for God's glory.  1 John 4:11-12
John writes in 1 John 4:11-12 "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us." God's glory is His goodness and name put on display.  As we aim to love one another, we are positioned to not only better see God's glory, but to enjoy it.  Jesus states in Mark 12:28-34 that the two greatest commandments are to Love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  The command to love my neighbor is directly related to my love for God.  Whenever churches make these two commands central to their life, God's glory in Jesus Christ takes center stage, and the spiritual climate of the church becomes saturated with love and zeal for His glory. 

3. More love, not less love for God's Word.  1 John 4:13-19
1 John 4:13-15 states - "By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God."  As the Holy Spirit testifies to your heart and mine about who we are and whose we are, He does so in connection to the scriptures.  Where else do we learn that Jesus is the Son of God, or that He first loved us? The scriptures! (1 John 4:16-19)  Whenever we choose to love one another with God's love, the love for God's word will follow suit, since scripture itself is described as the believer's food. (Job 23:12; 1 Peter 2:1-2)  The Holy Spirit within the Christian bears witness of the words which He inspired through the writings of the Apostles and writings.  It is through the scriptures that faith is born, nourished and enabled to see Jesus Christ. (Luke 24:44; James 1:18)

4. More love, not less love for one another.  1 John 4:20-21
1 John 4:20 reads - "If someone says, 'I love God' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen."  As we make a concerted effort to love one another without partiality, we will have the supernatural by-product of greater love for God.  Conversely, as we aim to make our lives more God-centered - we will end uphaving greater love for one another. Why? Because God has so chosen to indwell each Christian by His Spirit. (John 14:17; Ephesians 1:11-14)  Furthermore, Christ purchased His people with His own blood, making them precious due to the price paid for them. (Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  Again, we cannot separate loving the Lord our God with all our mind, soul and strength from the other great commandment to love our neighbor. 

Conclusion - loving one another yields a God-centered Christianity
Through John's simple command to "love one another", we find the antidote to the warning James gives concerning showing partiality.  As we love one another with God's love, we will end up having churches that have greater love for Jesus, God's glory, God's Word and one another.  May this profound vision revolutionize our day to day Christian lives, and churches.