It’s easy to feel compassion for someone who doesn’t know Christ. We excuse their behavior because they haven’t met the Savior. But how do we act toward a Christian brother or sister who doesn’t worship like we do, dresses differently, or enjoys different music?
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:3-6 (ESV)
What’s the major characteristic of one who knows God? Do we become a Christian by keeping God’s commandments?
The word “but” is used for contrast. What contrasts do you see in verses 4 and 5?
Verse 6 tells us that we should walk as Christ walked. Doesn’t that seem impossible? How do you feel when you make a conscious choice to walk as Christ walked?
Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8 At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 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. 1 John 2:7-11 (ESV)
In this passage, brother refers to fellow believers. It’s the agape, or unconditional love. It’s the love that isn’t a feeling – it’s an act of your will.
We spend a lot of time telling others that we love them. We have the “meet and greet” part of the church service where hugs are given and encouraging words are spoken. Is this the type of love that these verses refer to, or is there something more?
Part of our testimony is in our relationships with other people. Obviously, we won’t like everyone we encounter, but we are expected to love them – to show them Jesus through our actions. Who do you know (either churched or unchurched) that you need to change your attitude toward? Who needs to see agape love? Who do you need to pray for?
Obviously, we need to show agape love to unbelievers. It is also important to show that love to believers as well.
Think of the church member who just gets on your nerves. S/he is not your cup of tea; every time you encounter the person, you want to turn away, or shudder, or ignore. Yep, you don’t like them. But does that matter when we discuss agape love? Is shunning that person the best way to encourage the body? If you chose to show agape love, could it change the way you think about that person? Could it encourage someone else to show agape love? What could your one action do to change your world?
I pray that you think about the areas in your life where agape love shines – and where it doesn’t. I know I need to really think about it because I have that “one person” in my life to whom I’ve chosen to show no love. I need to fix it – today.
See you Wednesday.