1 John 2:9-11: 9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
John is reminding us that if we claim to know Christ, if He is who we say we are following, then here, specifically, we must love one another. Not just love those yet to be reached with the Good News, but love one another, brothers and sisters in the family of God. Jesus said in John 13, one way the world can tell we are actually disciples of His is that we love one another.
If you grew up with siblings or if you’re raising multiple children, you know this reality…siblings in the same blood family will not always rise up and bless one another. They may rise up and say other things, but they are not always prone to humble themselves and love one another extravagantly.
And the exact thing can happen within God’s family that we have all been adopted into through faith in Christ and by the grace of God.
Why do we see repeatedly in 1 John and elsewhere in the Bible, God’s Word calling us to love one another? One reason is because our sin nature, our personality differences, our varied backgrounds and experiences, all of that, if left unchecked to the Spirit’s loving authority, can and will lead to conflict and disagreement.
Listen to me church…that particular sibling in the family of God is not the enemy. We have one spiritual enemy, and his mission is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). The enemy is not your sibling.
This is one of the litmus tests for our faith. Do we love one another? Do we have great affection for the others in the family of God? Is our love for one another patient, kind, sacrificial, generous, selfless, quick to listen, bearing with one another? Is it a love that meets the practical needs of one another? Is it a love that goes out of its way to be demonstrated?
Verse 9 says Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.
We can’t claim to know God, but then turn around and hate our brother or sister. If we do, then it is clear we have never experienced the love of God through Jesus. Because after having been shown such extravagant love, how in the world could we turn around then and not show such generous love to a fellow family member?
Again, John is very black and white in his writing. Love or hate in this instance. What does the word hate mean? Besides the basics of trying to harm another or wishing harm upon another, the one that rings true for me, and for you probably, is that hate can be defined as cold indifference.
Who in the family of God are you cold and indifferent to? Because where you find it, you’ll find the root of sin. Sin that needs to be moved into the light of truth and put to death.
If all the world sees is fellow Christ followers fighting with one another over petty issues, gossiping about and slandering one another, holding resentment and bitterness toward one another, tell me why in the world, an unbeliever would ever want to be involved in such a family.
Our unity and deep love for one another is a witness to the world, a reflection that who we claim to follow, not only changes us internally, but outwardly, including how we love one another.
Can we also just admit this truth that some people are hard to love? Right? You’ve got them, and I’ve got them. And you and I are them. You and I are also the ones who are hard to love. Not just ‘them’ but us. Can we be sober-minded enough to admit that? That we’ve all got some quirks and things about us that are difficult to love? I know I have them. Ask my wife and children.
Supernatural, Gospel community happens, when we walk with one another and confess sin, and ask forgiveness, and say, I need help, and I am here for you, and how can I help, and you’re not alone, and I will walk with you through this, and God’s grace is bigger than the sin, and let’s follow Jesus together.
I have people in the Crosspoint family who I have confessed my sin to, and received grace. Siblings who I have wronged, and they have wronged me, and we’ve reconciled because the Gospel is bigger than our pettiness and pride. And such reconciliation then is this beautiful testimony to the world, as well as, worship to our God. It gives evidence to the fact that we’ve been changed. And as a result, we’re called to live differently.
So how do we love those who are difficult to love? We remember the Gospel. That Jesus loved you and me when we were most unlovable. You and I can grow to love because this new commandment has been fulfilled in Jesus. We can’t claim to say that the Gospel has changed us, and yet hold onto a grudge. Because in Christ, He is no longer holding our sin against us! And don’t miss this truth…loving one another starts with those closest to us.
If we claim to abide in, or follow Jesus, then we must walk as Jesus walked.
Crosspoint, I’m so grateful to be in community with you, and in relationship with you. There is no other place I’d rather be, than here. Following Jesus together with you. May we keep saying YES to His transforming work in our lives. May we keep growing in our obedience to His commands. May we keep growing and increasing in our love for one another. May God get all the glory, and may the lives around us be changed because we were willing to be changed first.