Are you listening? It seems a bit like John is repeating himself again as his message is still “Love one another”.
The story is told that John would be carried into a meeting in his old age and when asked if he had a word from the Lord, his word was “My Children, (or dear friends) Love one another”, at the next meeting, the same thing happened, then again, and again. While there were some who were perhaps beginning to wonder if he may be showing signs of senility and forgetting what he had said in the past, when he was asked about this, his response was essentially that this was what Jesus had taught. If we get that right then everything else would follow.
He also repeats clear guidelines on discerning false teaching. The most important was “Do they acknowledge that Jesus Christ came as a human being as Gods son (see verse 2). If they deny this, then they do not have the Spirit of God within them.
But you belong to God, my children and have defeated the false prophets, because the Spirit who is in you is more powerful than the spirit in those who belong in the world. (v 4)
The world likes to listen to them because they do not have the Spirit of God but the spirit of the world.
But we belong to God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever does not belong to God does not listen to us. (v 6)
Again he says;
Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God (v7)
God demonstrated his love for us by sending Jesus his Son so that we might be forgiven our sins and have union with him. This it the model that Christ showed us and he has given us his Spirit to confirm his love and acceptance of us. Through him we will be made perfect as his love is made perfect in us.
God is love, and those who live in love, live in union with God and God lives in union with them (v 16)
Now most of us know about human love, loving our family, children, friends etc. but this is speaking of a higher level of love. We are through Christ, able to love people who we would not naturally be drawn to. God puts us in church families to not only learn his word and for corporate worship, but to learn to love others.
If we say we love God, but hate our brothers and sisters, we are liars. For people cannot love God who they have not seen, if they do not love their brothers and sisters, whom they have seen (v 20)
It’s not optional – it is a command (see verse 21). I heard a song once which said something along the lines of “if people annoy you, then you probably annoy them too”. We all have our “funny ways” and have to learn to be patient and tolerant with each other.
About a year ago, a group of us went to a Worship seminar. We were expecting teaching on how to be better worship leaders, musicians, singers etc. but. A good part of the day was spent learning about character traits. We learned that most people fitted into one of 4 “colours” associated with different character traits- it roughly went like this;
- Reds – essentially the bossy organiser. Has their own idea on what should be done and how, and does not like to hear anyone elses view.
- Blues – like to analyse everything first, what needs to be done, who is going to do it? how, when – it would be better to do it themselves so that they can be sure it is done correctly.
- Greens – more relaxed, won’t make a decision and will try to get a group opinion, “what does everyone else think?” but won’t put theirs forward and will wait for someone else to step up and take the lead
- Yellows – are very relaxed, lets just have fun, don’t worry about it.
There is an awful lot more to it than this and it is much more complex, but we were asked to identify ourselves against a grouping. Then we looked around at where each of us had identified ourselves and it began to make sense; we realised why one person would stress out because they didn’t know what the song list was early enough so that they could make sure they had the correct words or music prepared, why someone else could never plan anything in advance and would quite happily leave everything to the last moment. We had a better understanding of each others little quirks and were therefore able to work together better because we began to understand the way other people thought and were able to be more patient with each other.
We learn to love and accept the new believer who comes in with all their “rough edges” and somehow we learn from them too as well as the wise mature believer who has a gentle word for everyone and quietly serves and teaches.
So we are not yet perfect but God’s love is making us perfect.
Quotes from The Good News Bible