In 1965 Jackie DeShannon recorded the hit song, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love... Those words have a lot of truth for today as we witness our world getting ripped apart by hate and division. We are a nation that is divided racially, ethnically, politically, socio-economically, and morally. The great challenge for believers in the church is to rise above the fray and love one another as Jesus taught.
I know, I know, you’ve heard the need for love preached your whole Christian life, but it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve heard something, it only matters if you’ve done it! In our passage this week, the Apostle John is writing in a very straight forward manner to say, “listen, loving others isn’t theoretical; let’s not have a meeting and discuss it for a while, it’s very practical, it’s to be characterized in our lives by "deed and truth." It was John who quoted Jesus as saying, “By this will all people know you are My disciples, that you love one another.”
It’s clear that loving one another is at the heart of the Christian life. It’s a distinguishing mark of an authentic disciple of Jesus Christ. He writes this to change the whole direction of our lives, from resentment, envy, and yes, hate and murder, to loving, accepting, and helping one another; it's transformational living. How are you doing with this? See, you get the sense that John isn't talking about polite smiles, friendly handshakes, and token displays of unity. He's writing about a love that is distinctive, different from any other love anywhere else in the world. He's calling for deep, authentic love.
To illustrate his point, John takes us all the way back to the original sibling rivalry in Cain and Able. Cain is a perfect example of someone who is a "child of the devil." He not only disobeyed God’s commands, he showed the hatred that was really in his heart by killing his brother in a savage, violent manner. Hatred finds its source in the devil, whereas love originates with God. Abel obeyed by faith, and Cain acted in defiance and disobedience. Abel’s love for God exposed Cain’s rebellion.
As a believer today your life stands in judgment to the unbelieving world and convicts them of their guilt. They will hate you because of who you love. Jesus said, "if the world hates you, remember that it hates Me first." It’s happening exactly as Jesus said it would. There is a marked increase of hate, especially for Christians.
John now sets up another contrast between those who “love the brethren” and the person who “hates his brother.” A person whose life is marked by selfish hatred of others shows no evidence of new life in Christ. However, believers, you’re not like that, you need to follow Christ’s example by having a self-sacrificing love for one another like Christ had for you
Biblical love is a self-sacrificing, caring commitment that shows itself in seeking the highest good of the one loved.
None of us get this right 100% of the time. None of us exhibit continual biblical love for those around us. There are a lot of people in our lives that are really hard to love! We all have moments when we do things, say things, think things that are not loving. We may not murder anyone, but we sure fail to love as Christ loved us. Self-sacrifice is never convenient. It’s always more of a hassle to meet someone’s needs than to ignore them, but John’s point is that love unites people through living it out (deed and truth), it’s practical, it’s the evidence of your love with Christ. Don’t focus on your failures. Focus on the many times that God has used you to show love to others.