1 John is so full of the word “love” it has to give the Rambo types in the theological world ulcers. It’s probably why Mark Driscoll may stay away from it.
But the concept of “love” is what needs work. We have this mushy definition of, “I am what I am and you need to accept and affirm all of it or you don’t love me.”
We need a reworking of the definition, because loving the neighbor as Christ commands is far beyond this current use of “love.”
Loving your neighbor is learning to “bless those who curse you.” This is far beyond the definition of “love” we have today.
To truly love someone is to have the ability to bring truth into their lives without being harmful. It is placing what is Kingdom rightness in front of people and allowing them to deal with it. They may accept it. They may not. It’s not up to us. But our love for others should compel us to want Kingdom rightness for their lives.
The definition of “Kingdom rightness” gets messy, to be sure. That is why the first part of the great commandment is so crucial: Love God. When we love God and free ourselves from manipulation, we see his radical love for us. His radical love also brings Kingdom rightness into our lives… and that gets uncomfortable. He doesn’t do it to be maniacal. He does it because he knows what is best.
John’s love is far beyond our current “fluffy” junk. It is radical. It does not fear.
1 John almost seems to be a mystical letter. There are bold, brash statements about “knowing the anointing” and “not needing any teacher,” plus the whole thing of not sinning anymore.
1-3 John are such short books and make such outlandish statements, it’s almost too easy to skim right over them.
Not sin? REALLY?
Part of what we miss is John’s knowledge of what is possible. Sometimes, when we get a glimpse of the power of the Kingdom, and we get a taste of the power of the Spirit, there is a glimpse into what is God’s best. When we glimpse God’s best we may not know how to fully describe it. Descriptions can come out awkward, such as bold statements like John makes in his short letter.
The point is this: We need to realize the lavishness of the Kingdom. There is a power that has been delivered to us and we just don’t recognize it most of the time.
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (I Jn. 3:8, NIV)
The enemy has been bound up. The Kingdom is unleashed. There is power available. We can understand God’s best and live it. Too much of the time, however, that doesn’t seem to interest us very much. The loss is ours. It is also the world’s loss.
We can do better.
9 Those born from God don’t practice sin because God’s DNA remains in them. They can’t sin because they are born from God. 10 This is how God’s children and the devil’s children are apparent: everyone who doesn’t practice righteousness is not from God, including the person who doesn’t love a brother or sister. 11 This is the message that you heard from the beginning: love each other. (I Jn. 3:9-11, CEB)
The life of God is found in abiding in him. Our abiding in him bears fruit. Our NOT abiding in him bears fruit. You can compare the fruit.
Are we living in righteousness? Are we living to please him?
1 John 3:22 is such a great verse… if we ignore v. 23 and 24!
We receive whatever we ask from him because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. (I Jn. 3:22, CEB) What a powerful verse. Take it and run with it!
But don’t forget the verses following…
23 This is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love each other as he commanded us. 24 The person who keeps his commandments remains in God and God remains in him; and this is how we know that he remains in us, because of the Spirit that he has given to us.
Too often we want the rewards of God without the requirements of God.
His commands are simple: Love Jesus. Love your neighbor. When those things are coming out in action then you know you are abiding. Then you can go ahead and ASK.
Am I abiding in my Savior? Am I loving my neighbor? Are my actions portraying the DNA of God… or the DNA of mere humanity?