Friday, August 22, 2008
08.24.08 Wuv, true Wuv
Today's text comes from 1 John 3:11-24 [link]
1 John 3:10-11
"10By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 11For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another."
It is evident who belongs to God and who belongs to Satan, who is a child of this world and who is a child of God's kingdom, who is a child of Satan and who is a child of God. Those who practice righteousness, hope in Jesus, and love their brother belong to God and those who practice unrighteousness and hate their brother are not of God. No one is neutral. There is no such thing as a spiritual "Switzerland." You either belong to God or you belong to Satan. This message, to love one another, is not new, see leviticus....., but has been made new through Jesus in the way we approach it so none of us have an excuse for not loving one another.
What's John talking about with love vs. hate? Children of God vs. children of Satan? Well, John goes old school on us and pulls an example of what this looks like and pulls it straight from Genesis 4: 1-8
It's almost as if John is saying...."You guys have read your Bibles right? You know the story of Cain and Abel right?" Cain and Abel were the physical birth sons of Adam and Eve but spiritually they were worlds apart. Abel loved his parents, loved his brother Cain, loved God, worshiped God, and made sacrifices to God. Cain loved himself, his stuff, and worshiped everything but God. Cain tried to skirt around God's commands and when he saw Abel's righteousness it convicted him and instead of repenting Cain became angry.
1 John 3:12 "12We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous." John is warning us...."don't be like Cain! Don't be of the Devil! Give yourselves to God! Be born again! Don't be evil practicing evil but be righteous through the new birth through Jesus!"
Why is John saying all of this? I'm not going to murder anyone. I can remember as a kid saying things like...."I love that person in a Jesus way but I hate them in my way." Just because I don't love my enemy doesn't mean I will kill them does it? Do I really have to love everyone? Cain had the message to love his brother, love others, to love God but he couldn't do it in and of himself. He couldn't will himself to love God or to love others. He couldn't obey God because he was not of God. Ultimately Cain failed because he relied on himself, relied on his own false gospel. In fact, when you think of it Cain was following in the footsteps of his parents, Adam and Eve who also thought they could be their own gods. Cain belonged to this world and he belonged to Satan.
Point #1 - Luv, true luv comes only through the new birth that comes through faith in Jesus. The absence of love is hate and hate leads to anger and anger leads to the dark side.
Don't be evil, don't hate your brother. Examine your heart right now...do you have hate for your brother or love?
1 John 3:13-15
"13Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."
Our thoughts aren't just our thoughts. Jesus said in Matthew 12:34 "...For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." John uses the real example of Cain and Abel to show us the two examples of those who belong to God and those who belong to Satan and in doing so we see the implications of how our citizenship effects our lives first from the inside then manifesting itself on the outside in action.
So we see the example of Cain and Abel, we see the two types of families, God and Satan, and we see the results of hate and we know what hate looks like. But what about love? What does it mean to love our brothers? To love one another? John gives us the perfect example in Jesus.
1 John 3:16
"16By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us..."
Jesus loves us and we know love through Him. Not because He had warm and fuzzies for us, not because Jesus had posters of us on His wall, had a man crush on us, paid us lip services, gave us props, patted us on the back but through action!
Jesus was a man of action and we see His love in and through His actions. Jesus Himself said He came to "...seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10), to serve not to be served (Mark 10:45), and "to give His life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45). He didn't come to sit in His mama's basement all summer watching Xhibit pimp a hummer or to hang out at the pool.
We know love, as John puts it, by Jesus laying down His life for us and often in scripture when we read about the love Jesus has for it is tied directly to the cross (John 3:16, Galatians 2:20, Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:10).
Jesus loves us through action not words and we see this most powerfully displayed on the cross. where He willingly gave Himself to die in our place for our sins as He who was without sin took upon our sins and became sin and took the wrath of God for our sins
Point #2 - For the born again Christian love is always a verb, always action not a feeling.
Just as Jesus showed His love for us by laying down His life we too should lay down our lives for others and while we may not be called to die for our faith Jesus calls us to die daily to our selves, to deny ourselves daily and to follow Him (Luke 9:23).
Yet instead of dying daily, instead of crucifying our flesh and our sinful desires my fear is that we try to manage our flesh, we get into the flesh management business, moving sins around, arranging things just right with the appearance that everything is under control while we neglect each other and neglect the saving power of the gospel.
Our love should follow Jesus' example in that we put aside our desires, put others first, put our flesh to death. Here are a few examples: Husbands love your wives, not based on how she looks, how you feel, how she performs, how great the house looks. What if Jesus withheld His great love from you until you looked a certain way, acted in a certain manner, were good enough to merit His love? Wives, love your husbands regardless of his hairy back and one eyebrow. Don't base your love for your husband on how you feel but on Jesus' example through action.
How about others? Laying down your lives for others, sacrificing one meal to provide for others? Foregoing your 2nd or 3rd vacation to give to missions or better yet to go on mission either local or foreign? Our mantra should be...."we get to give!" (vs 17). As Christians who are the recipients of God's unending mercy, grace, and love we should live lavish lives of generosity in which we give abundantly of all we have to others. If you got good then you are suppose to give (vs 18). Isn't that why God gave them to you in the first place?
Our love proves who we belong to (vs 19-23), it gives us reassurance even though we are sometimes condemned in our feelings, and it gives us confidence.
The person who loves God and loves people abide in God and God abides in them (vs 24) just as it is meant to be.