By Stan Brown
I John 4:21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loves God love his brother also.
John doesn’t stutter. God is love and we must be all about love. In the previous verse, he has said if we don’t love one another we don’t love God. Now he mentions the converse as he says if we do love God, we will love our sisters and our brothers and this is not just a polite suggestion from John. He describes it as a commandment. This is not new from John. He has previously said, This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us (1John 3:23). He declares that love is absolutely associated with abiding, The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him (1John 3:24).
Let’s step back for a moment and ask ourselves the question, “If God so loved the world, why does John seem to ignore the world and focus on love for other believers?” Didn’t Jesus say concerning the commandments “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’ (Matt. 22:39)? Perhaps John focuses on other believers because some believers are pretty difficult to love. God understands that. He loves us. Perhaps it is because we need to practice on one another before getting it right in the world. It is certainly because loving one another demonstrates God to the world. We become God’s message to the world when we love one another. The message is muffled when we fail to love each other. As He prayed to the Father, Jesus said, that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me (John 17:21). When we love we abide. When we abide we are the message. It is an amazing statement when Jesus asks that we might be united even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You. Without love for one another this is impossible. Without love for one another we fail to be God’s message to all those whom God loves.
In the previous fifteen verses the word love has occurred twenty-five times. John has just said if we are not loving our believing brothers and sisters, we are not loving God. It is also true that if we are not loving our fellow believers, we are not loving those who have not believed in the Son. Loving one another is the lynchpin that draws it all together. Love for God is nonexistence when it is not displayed in love for one another. Love for those in the world is displayed when we love one another. John never suggests that we are not to love the folks living in the chaos of the world but rather that the greatest thing we can do for them is display God’s love by loving each other. Let us be the Message!!