Wednesday, May 14, 2014

God's Children Love Differently

The way that they love is proof that they are God's children.

1 John 3:10-11 So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.  11  This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

1 John 3:15-18  Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don't have eternal life within them.

16  We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.  17  If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion--how can God's love be in that person?  18  Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

There are two test to validate a persons claim to be a child of God. Anybody can make the claim that they are saved and on their way to heaven but if the fruit in their life doesn't prove it then something is wrong.

The first test is how they live, in the previous post we learned that "God's Children Behave Differently," they cannot live like the rest of the world without God pursuing them. John tells us that "Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning."

The second test is how well they love, if someone claims to be a Christian, if they claim to be a child of God, then we will be able to know it by their love. John already mentioned this in chapter two when he taught us about living in the light:
1 John 2:9 If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness.
Christians belong to the new age of light, the eternal kingdom where God’s values rule and his will is done. We are not to love the world's values and what it thinks is important or pleasing. The only thing that we should love in this world is our Savior and our neighbor.

Characteristics of people that do not love (aka the devil's children):

✔ Murders (1 John 3:12-13) - A lack of love is a very dangerous thing. In it's extreme form it is murder and it can make a religious person want to get rid of somebody they don't like by taking their life. There have been a lot of murders in world history because of a lack of love. It wasn't atheists who screamed for Jesus blood and demanded that the Romans crucify Him.

✔ Haters (1 John 3:14-15) - The only difference between murder and hate is the act, John says that the attitude is the same, that's a scary thought. The popular phrase "haters are going to hate" is very true. The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us to "Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, and watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up." (Hebrews 12:14-15)

✔ Indifference (1 John 3:18-20) - Genuine love calls you to action when you see an unmet need. It's the message that Jesus was trying to teach his disciples in the parable of the Good Samaritan. If we love as we should we will not be able to step to the other side of the road and pretend that they are not there.
Ephesians 5:1-2, 10  Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. 10  Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.
Just as children follow the example of their parents, as Christians we must follow the example of our heavenly Father. We cannot just talk about our love but we have to go out to the world and show them a self-sacrificing love that puts others first. We should not clain that love is a part of our theology and not have it be a part of our daily life.

Theology, Bible study, and the pursuit of understanding God are all important but these things exist to inspire us to apply it to our life. Our beliefs should inspire us to emulate Christ and love others selflessly and sacrificially. My theology isn't going to make the world a better place if I use it to criticize and attack people that don't agree with me.

Christ followers have the same difficulties with doubt, fear, and bigotry that has divided the church for two-thousand years. Thankfully the appeal of Christianity is still alive despite the mistakes of imperfect followers of Jesus but imagine how appealing Christianity would be if we did a better job of imitating him.