Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Dec 3 2013 - 1 John 3:7-24 – Love beyond words

One of the central themes of 1 John is love. The world may talk a lot about love and sing endlessly about love, but it is Jesus who shows us what love really means: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters" (1 John 3:16). Love is not self-preoccupied; it is concerned about the welfare and blessing of the one(s) loved. Jesus’ love for us moved him to leave his throne in glory and come into this world to save us. He laid down his life for us, taking the punishment that our sin deserved. Now he calls us to lay down our lives for others. We are to love one another as he has loved us; to be more concerned about the welfare of others than we are concerned about ourselves.

What does it mean to love as Jesus loved? John writes, "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth" (3:17-16). John challenges us to do more than talk about love – whether it is love for God or for others. Love is not a matter of sentiment or feeling, it is seen in action – “Love is a verb,” as one writer has put it. Without acts of love, our profession of love is just empty words.

We often want to place limitations on Jesus command to love. We draw a line around our immediate circle of family and friends; loving them is demanding enough at times, surely we cannot be expected to love others outside this circle? Jesus did not restrict his love to those who were close to us; he loved us when we were rebels and sinners; he loved us when we were far off from him. Jesus calls us to love like that – even to love our enemies!

The call to love regularly disrupts our own priorities and plays havoc with our plans; it is an inconvenient command. It robs us of our pretence to independence and self-sufficiency. It reminds us that the Christian life is not a solitary life of contemplation; it has to be lived out in relationship even as it has its origin in the relationship we enjoy with God through Christ.

We do not have the power to love like that. It is only as Jesus lives within us by his Spirit that we are enabled to walk as he walked, to love as he loved.

It had gone on for three years. Three years of patiently teaching and doing good with only misunderstanding and hostility in return. He wanted to say: 'I quit, I don't need this.' But instead he said: 'Not my will but yours be done.' A few hours later he hung on a cross, nails cutting into his limbs, lungs struggling for air, crowds spitting venom. He wanted to say: 'I quit. I'm coming down.' But instead he said: 'Father, forgive.' He kept going until he could cry, 'It is finished.'

Jesus is the perfect person, the true image of God, the glory of the Father. And God's agenda for change is for us to become like Jesus. (Tim Chester, You Can Change)

Father God, thank you for embracing me in your love and making me part of your family. Help me to love others as Jesus, your Son, has loved us. Help us to love one another extravagantly and freely that the love of Christ might be made visible in our shared life.

Peter Misselbrook