Christian faith is built upon love
“God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in them.17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love his brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” – I John 4:16-21
The lack of love for our brothers and sisters around us, gives evidence that the love of God is lacking in us. We cannot separate the love of God and the love of our brothers and sisters. The two go together. To love God is to love those around us, particularly our family members. Our Christian faith is built upon love.
Scripture tells us that it is “Not that we loved God, but that he loved us.” The evidence of God’s love for us is in Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God.” We experience God’s love through Jesus who rescued us from death and the devil.
God works love through faith. The faith that we have is produced in us through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit brings us to faith in Jesus Christ, the son of God. And because of that faith, “we know that we live in him and he in us.”
What does God’s love for us in Jesus produce? This love of God in Jesus gives us confidence in the judgment. We are not afraid of the judgment.
We are not afraid because we know that God’s love in Jesus has brought about the forgiveness of sins. The apostle Paul assures us in Romans 8:1: “Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
God’s love in Jesus also produces other results. This love for us in Jesus produces an outpouring of love towards others.
The love of God in us causes us to love one another. We love those among us who are unlovable. We love those who have hurt us and cause us great pain. We love those gossiping neighbors who constantly show contempt for our privacy.
This love causes us to be more forgiving. This love causes us to even seem to be stupid because we ignore the advice of those who tell us to cut off people who cause us harm. Instead, we extend the hand of love towards them.
Our love for one another shows that God’s redeeming work has been accomplished in us.
It shows that we have received faith as a gift of the Spirit. In fact, when this love for one another is lacking, it shows that we do not have faith in Jesus.
We should not just talk about the love we have for others. Words are normally only words. Love is better demonstrated by the things that we do rather than the things that we say.
The apostle poses the question, “How can we love God whom we have not seen and hate our brother whom we have seen?” When the love of God lives in our heart, it transfers to our fellowmen.
Our Lord, on the night before he died, said to his disciples: “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” [John 13:34] Amen.
- Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas or telephone 323-4107; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.