It’s seems we’re living in a time when we’ve lost the plot about what’s most important. With cancel culture and so much anger, fear, and division, we’ve lost what makes us feel most alive, most human. We’ve forgotten our source of joy—other-centered, self-giving love. To quote the song, it’s what the world needs now…but it’s the one thing there’s so little of….
This is precisely what John reminds us of in his first epistle.
11 The beautiful message you’ve heard right from the start is that we should walk in self-sacrificing love toward one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who yielded to the Evil One and brutally murdered his own brother, Abel. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s righteous.
13 So don’t be shocked, beloved brothers and sisters, if you experience the world’s hatred. 14 Yet we can be assured that we have been translated from spiritual death into spiritual life because we love the family of believers. A loveless life remains spiritually dead. (1 John 3:11-13 TPT*)
First, we see from this passage that the message we’ve heard is that we should walk in other-centered, self-giving love. Then John goes on to say….
16 This is how we have discovered love’s reality: Jesus sacrificed his life for us. Because of this great love, we should be willing to lay down our lives for one another. (1 John 3:16 TPT*)
God showed us what love is by giving His life for us. As Paul said….
14 For it is Christ’s love that fuels our passion and motivates us, because we are absolutely convinced that he has given his life for all of us. This means all died with him, 15 so that those who live should no longer live self-absorbed lives but lives that are poured out for him—the one who died for us and now lives again. (2 Cor.5:14-15 TPT*)
Beloved, THIS is the message—walk in the same other-centered, self-giving love that God loves us.
Think about it. All sin, starting with Cain, and everything wrong with the world since, stems from a failure to walk in other-centered, self-giving love.
The only problem this world has is that too many people in it are living “self-absorbed lives.” It’s the opposite of the good news that brings great joy, because joy is relational. Joy is gladness, and gladness comes whenever other-centered love is expressed. And this love comes from God, because God is love (1 John 4:7-8).
John goes on to say in the first passage above that the world won’t understand this kind of love. They may even hate you for not being like them. Yet, there is a deeply-seated, innate desire within everyone to be loved and to love. Jesus told us that the world would know we’re His by our love for one another, and our union together in His love would show them how much God loves them.
35 For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers.” (John 13:35 TPT*)
23 You live fully in me and now I live fully in them
so that they will experience perfect unity,
and the world will be convinced that you have sent me,
for they will see that you love each one of them
with the same passionate love that you have for me. (John 17:23 TPT*)
So, world change starts with us. We, as Christ followers, are invited to learn how to be loved by God so that we can love one another with His love (see John 15:9-12). It’s only then that the world will take notice and see God’s love for them. That’s our glorious assignment!
Finally, John tells us that a loveless life is a spiritually dead life. It seems to me, then, that walking in the opposite spirit is the antidote. His other-centered, self-giving love drives out all fear, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and division. When we walk in God’s love, we walk in His joy, and His joy is what the world desperately needs right now!
In a year that has tested our spiritual and emotional mettle in so many ways, we should not lose focus on the message our hearts have received in Christ.
Let’s be resolved to be radical activists for love! Let’s be relentless in our grace and patience and kindness toward others, especially those who would want to be against us. Let’s vow to listen and understand more than we demand to be heard, and let’s keep our relationships a higher priority than our opinions or need to be right. There’s a whole lot of things that we will do in this world that will fail, but His love never fails. Amen.