Last week, political protest erupted into violence and dissension as people stormed the Capitol in Washington, DC. The incident was just the latest in a series of events which have served to shine a light on the social, cultural, and political divisions in our society. Why do people turn to anger, hatred, factionalism, and even violence? Largely it is due to FEAR!
Fear is the product of faithlessness. When people don’t have faith in God to love, protect, and faithfully take care of them, they rely on other things for a sense of security. When whatever they have placed their security in is threatened or taken from them, fear results. This fear manifests itself in various ways: anxiety, depression, anger, hatred, and even violence! When your security is in God there is no fear, because God cannot be threatened or taken away (ROM 8:38-39).
As disciples, we are called to be God’s holy people! We are called to live our lives by faith, not in fear (2 Cor 5:6-10; Heb 10:38-39). We must never allow the divisions so evident in the world to infect and manifest themselves in the church! Where the world becomes hateful and divided, we, as brothers and sisters, must remember that we are one in Christ and draw closer to one another in love!
1 JOHN 4:7-11 OUR LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER IS EVIDENCE OF OUR SALVATION
What are some things we glean from this passage? First of all, our love for one another is evidence that we have saving faith… only the one who loves his/her brothers and sisters is born of God (born again) and knows God!
Second, we are reminded that Faith Loves First! When you have faith that Jesus truly died for your sins–when you see the cross and understand what Jesus has done for you–it humbles you! You become totally aware that you have no right to hate or hold bitterness or anger in your heart against anyone (Matt 5:21-22).
Third, love dies to self for the glory of God and the sake of others, just as Jesus died for God’s glory and for us. Love seeks to understand rather than be understood. It seeks to give rather than keeping tallies on what it receives. It is concerned with the treatment of others, not the treatment of self.
1 JOHN 4:12 — OUR LOVE GLORIFIES GOD
What is this verse saying? How is God made visible to the world? How does God live in us and through us? What do you think it means to say that God’s love is made complete in us? When we love one another as God loves, the world sees God in the church! God is glorified as the world sees his love in us!
1 JOHN 4:15-16 — GOD’S LOVE IS OUR STRENGTH (to love one another)
This passage says that we “rely” on the love of God. We rely on God’s love for us in order to have the security necessary to love one another no matter what. How so? When we trust in God’s love for us–knowing that he has got us–it frees us up to not worry about ourselves. Instead, we concern ourselves with loving and obeying God and loving and taking care of others. I do not have a fear of what will become of me, I only care to love my brothers and sisters and those in the world around me.
What about you? You believe that God loves you, but do you rely on his love? Or do you still rely on self, fearfully abandoning the way of righteousness in an effort to gain control over things that cause you uncertainty. Do you trust God’s love enough to stay faithful, knowing a loving God has you?
What does it mean to “acknowledge” Jesus as the Son of God? Do you think John is simply talking about words and feelings, or do you think more is involved? To acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God is to obey him as the Son of God and submit to him as Lord!
1 JOHN 4:17-21 — LOVE DRIVES OUT FEAR!
Love overcomes fear. How can we live free of any fear of God’s judgment? In this life, live and love like Jesus! The disciple motivated by the desire to know and be like Jesus does not live his/her life in fear, but rather is inspired by love. For him/her discipleship is not a burden but, rather, a joyous pursuit of Christ! (1 JOHN 5:3-4)