Monday, November 9, 2015

What Does Love Look Like?

1 John 2:7-11

7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister[b] is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister[c] lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

John's command to love one another is old because it comes from the Old Testament, but it is new by how it radically it is re-interpreted by Jesus. The problem with the Law was that the natural human response was to do the least amount possible to obey it. And that obedience might be motivated by self interest. In contrast to that Jesus says in John 13:34 "A new command I give to you is to love one another as I have loved you."

So the command wasn't so new, but how to apply it was radically new. After all it is modeled after Jesus' own love, which was self-sacrificial. Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount that this love is so new that you "can love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you". For he reasons if you love someone who loves you what does that show? After all even the pagans can do that. Jesus' love reached out to all people, even the self righteous and the sinners.

John, as we talked yesterday, is using the metaphor of darkness and light to distinguish between those who were following Jesus and those who weren't. Remember John's concern is that false teachers will ruin the church. Nothing will destroy a church quicker than those who claim to be Christian, but mistreats a brother or sister in Christ. John says that this self-emptying love Jesus modeled will be the mark of true Christian community. If we love one another like Jesus loved us it will show the world what Jesus is like. And if we don't, we won't be the shining light in our communities Jesus wants us to be.

Who has God called you to love recently? Maybe it is someone who causes you irritation, or is "extra grace required". As we follow Jesus, we must not only live like Him, but love like him. How is this possible? If we have received God's love for us through Jesus, it is out of this experience that we can love with the same love He gave us.

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