“Our Call is to Love!”
1 John 3:16-24
In a later chapter of “1 John,” we read these insightful and words of assurance; “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)
We are not called to hate, we are not called to destruction, not even the destruction of sin(for sadly sin, evil and destruction or ever present realities), but the awareness and avoidance of it in how we live, act, and think.
In the admonitions concerning love, found in the ‘1 John’ text of today one scriptural commentator writes of it; “Love sacrifices…Love shows obedience to God’s ways…”
This Epistle or letter of 1 John is an addendum if you will to the book of John, no consensus exist as to exactly who authored it, it was written sometime between 85-100 AD.
What it does for its intended audience, which are primarily early Gentil converts to Christianity is to inform them how they ought to live in midst/company of each other, as well as with their neighbors, being faithful converts and followers of Christ Jesus.
An insightful reference to the relationship between the Gospel of John, and this Epistle “1 John” can be found in John 13: 33-38, where Christ Jesus preparing and instructing his disciples on the night of his betrayal arrest, it reads thusly;
My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!”
So “1 John 3’ is an expansion or deeper exploration of the teachings, ways and words of Jesus that we find in the Gospel of John.
In ‘1 John 3:16-24,’ we find these expansions and teachings on how to reflect the love of God in our living… v16, “…we know love by this…he laid down his for us…we ought to lay down our lives for one another.”
V18, ‘…let us love not in word or speech, but in truth and action…” and by this we will know that we are from the truth…” And lastly v23, “And this is his commandment…we should love one another just as he has commanded us.”
Remember John 13:34,35 words nearly identical; “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
When we love one another a change is gonna come. In 1963, R & B song-writer and performer Sam Cooke was on a national tour, that carried him and his entourage through the city of Shreveport, Louisiana.
Tired, they sought lodging that night at the local Shreveport Holliday Inn. Sam Cook had the #1 hit (Darling You Send Me), on Billboard’s national music pop Chart, he had performed on the Ed Sullivan television show, so popular was his performance, tv-viewers demanded Sullivan bring Sam Cooke back.
On that fateful night in 1963, this prominent national recording star and his entourage were denied accommodations, not only that, they were later arrested by local police after checking into another hotel, taken to fire station told to strip to their underwear, and perform some of their songs to prove their equipment and expensive cars weren’t stolen.
Angered and frustrated by such treatment, Sam Cooke directed his entourage that they would not spend another moment in Shreveport, Louisiana, or any city that would treat him in such a manner, solely because of the color of his skin. As they drove to the next city he wrote his most famous and final hit song titled. “A Change Is Gonna Come!”
Rather than giving into and surrendering to his destructive anger, Sam Cooke wrote a song that continues to inspire millions even today.
Someone wrote; “Don’t let your emotions be your decision maker Stop and pray, let God lead you. God can change everything.”
A change is gonna come for St. Peter’s, I am encouraged that friends and members have begun talks to charter a course for a renewed and vital future for our beloved church.
I want to return to earlier portion of 1 John 3:1-3, that speaks words of assurance and affirmation as we in earnest began to chart a new future for St. Peter’s, it reads like this;
“Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. 2Beloved, we are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when Christ appears, we will be likeHim, for we will see Him as He is. 3And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as Christ is pure.…”
Love shows not just an obedience to God’s Word and Will, but it has the power to transform, to restore and render both healing and hope to hurtful and devastating situations. Remember God is love, to love is to know God not just in thought, but in our living.
So as I close, this message has been one about not just getting along, and being nice to one another, it is about embodying and manifesting the love of God, a love that has transformative, healing and redemptive power.
When Jesus was asked of all the commandments which is the most important Jesus responded;
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”