WHOEVER LOVES GOD MUST ALSO LOVE HIS BROTHER by Sarah Barry
WHOEVER LOVES GOD MUST ALSO LOVE HIS BROTHER
1 John 4:1-21
Key Verse: 4:21
“And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
Jesus gave his disciples two major commands. He commanded them to go into all the world and make disciples of every nation. He told them to love one another. I was amazed to learn that by the 5th century Christians had gone into most of the world with the gospel. Why did the Christian Church disappear from many parts of the world? There were many reasons. There was severe persecution instigated by various Roman emperors. Persecution, however, did not destroy the church. Rather, the Church spread and put down deep roots because of persecution. Christians in China do not pray for persecution to cease. They pray that China may become Christian and that the church of China may send missionaries down the Silk Road to Jerusalem before the persecution ceases.
The Muslim invasion and conquest of Christian lands in the 8th, then the 11th centuries contributed to the collapse of the organized church in some places, especially in Turkey and Palestine, where Christianity had been very strong. One of the goals of the Crusades of the 12th century was to retake for the church the lands that had once been Christian. This was a non-Biblical and non-Christian effort, and it failed completely. Seeds of hatred were sown that would block the spread of the gospel in those lands for centuries.
I believe that the major reason for the failure of the church to conquer the world for Christ lies in its disobedience to Jesus’second great command to his disciples: “Love one another.”The Roman Empire became the Holy Roman Empire and the church seemed to own the whole world. Then came extreme asceticism, heresy hunting and politics. And there was no Bible available to ordinary people. The commandment to love one another was forgotten.
The world for which Christ died still does not know about the love of God and his saving grace through Jesus’death and resurrection. So Jesus’command to make disciples of all nations is still a command for us to obey. At the same time, we must learn to love one another.
The disciple whom Jesus loved wrote this letter of 1 John. He was present when Jesus washed his disciples’feet and told his disciples to wash each others’feet. He heard Jesus speak a new command: “Love one another as I have loved you. By this men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”He was there when Jesus poured out his blood on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for his sins and for the sins of the world. John could not really love his brother Peter until after Jesus died and rose, and after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church. It is because disciples cannot really love one another unless they taste the grace and know the love of Jesus. We have no strength to love one another unless Jesus comes to dwell in our hearts and reign as our Lord. In this chapter, John writes about love, the love that comes from God. It is clear that John is not talking about human love; he is talking about something more than emotional feelings. He is talking about God’s love.
First, God’s love is different.We must see ourselves and others from God’s point of view. In verses 4-5, John says, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world and the world listens to them. We are from God and whoever knows God listens to us...”. Those who are of the world speak from the viewpoint of the world. We must see ourselves and one another from God’s viewpoint.
Once Jesus and his disciples saw a blind man sitting on the roadside begging. The disciples asked Jesus if this man was born blind because of his sins or because of the sins of his parents. They treated him like a victim. They were fatalistic about his situation. They acted as if he could not hear, either, and so they said discouraging words in his presence. But Jesus did not let him feel like a hopeless victim. Jesus said, “This man’s blindness is not because of sin. It is for the glory of God. And he glorified God by not only healing the man’s eyes but also by planting courageous faith in his heart. The former blind man held on to God’s grace in his life no matter what others said. He tasted Jesus’love.
There are many young people who grew up in dysfunctional homes. Others were victims of abuse. Sometimes people suffer because of the ignorance or evil of others–like Joseph in Genesis. There is suffering in the world. But it is important that a person not have a victim mentality, but see suffering as an opportunity to glorify God. We must help young people to climb out of the pit of fatalism. We must learn to see others with God’s hope. This is God’s love.
Second, God’s love is sacrificial.In sending his Son, God defined the meaning of love. In verse 10, John says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”Jesus’atoning sacrifice forgives our sins and heals the sickness of our souls. His love poured out on the cross brings reconciliation and peace between God and man and between man and man. He gives us eternal life and the kingdom of heaven. We sinners must receive this grace and love. John continues, (11) “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”When we have received this love from God we cannot be selfish. We cannot seek our own advantage. We must be mindful of others. If we know that someone is allergic to cats, we should keep our cat away when he comes. Paul says that if eating meat makes my brother stumble I will not eat meat. We should notice whether or not a coworker needs shoes or a good meal. To think about the needs of others before my own is the first step in sacrificial love.
Second, Godly love builds up.We must build up others. We cannot tear down the character or despise the faithfulness of others. We cannot lead others into immorality in the name of love. If the love we profess for another weakens the other person’s faith or turns him aside from his commitment to God, then it is not real love. It is selfish love, and selfish love is not from God. We must learn to embrace others’weaknesses and respect their strengths. We must not be quick to criticize or judge. If someone has a sin problem, we should pray for him. (5:16) We must plant hope and courage in our coworkers and sheep and children.
Paul described godly love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”Love is not an option for a Christian. “Whoever does not love does not know God.”(8) “If anyone says “I love God,”yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”This means that we cannot hold on to grudges or let a root of bitterness grow in our hearts. We cannot love others with godly love without God’s help.
Third, love comes from God.Verse 7 says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.”Real love does not have its source in human feelings. It comes from God. Verse 12 says that God lives in us. What an amazing statement. John says that the almighty, transcendent God lives in us. If we love one another, God lives in us (12); if we acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in us (Jn4:15); whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him (16b). The phrase, God lives in us and we live in God is repeated again and again in this passage. We can find the key in verse 13. “We know that we live in him and he in us because he has given us of his Spirit.”God has poured the Holy Spirit into our hearts. The Spirit of him who raised Christ from the dead dwells in the hearts of believers. He has come to dwell with us. When we accept Jesus’death on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for our sins, his blood purifies us from all sin. Then the Holy Spirit comes in to dwell. He comes with life giving and life changing power. He comes in to enable us to love God and to love our brothers and sisters. Loving others makes us vulnerable, but there is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear. We are called to be holy nation people. Holy nation people are people who love God. (Dt 6:5) and God has given us this command: whoever loves God must also love his brothers.”
Here in the Northwestern ministry we have many gifted people. Gifts are from God. God wants to use each of us, so we must be available for his use. We all love God and want to serve him. Sh Kevin is a coordinator. He is not a director, but a coordinator. He needs everyone’s cooperation and prayer. Sh Alan and Dr. James and M. James Ahn are elders. They are advisors and prayer servants and stewards. Fellowship leaders are direct workers. Students must be leaders in outreach to the campus–and campus outreach is the main reason for moving our Friday meeting. We can all pray. When we unite in prayer, God’s Spirit will come into our midst, for this is what the early church did. We can study the Bible and share the word God gives us. Most importantly, we must decide to trust one another and love one another. We are so very different. God has a great sense of humor to put such different kinds of people together to be one body. His only direction to us is to love one another.
So we who seek to obey Jesus’world mission command to make disciples of all nations, must also obey his command, “Love one another as I have loved you.”May God help us to do so. May he come and dwell in our hearts and among us in our community so that he can use us in the great task of bringing the gospel to the world. May God help us to win the Muslim world with the love of Jesus. May he open doors of North Korea to the love of God and to the gospel of Jesus Christ. May he work in and through us to defeat the atheism and materialism of our country and make America a Kingdom of Priests and a holy nation.