By Stan Brown
I John 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
As I write on each individual verse, I ask myself how many things can John possibly have to say about love. He repeats himself for emphasis but never tires of this essential subject. We, as well, must never tire of it. John drives home the point about loving each other. In the previous verse he has said that those who love God will love their brothers and sisters. Now he expands on the meaning of the previous verse as he lets them know who their brothers and sisters are. This reminds us of the question the lawyer asked Jesus when he was told to love his neighbor as himself. Seeking to justify himself, he asks “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan where he lets the lawyer know that everyone who is in need is his brother.
John knows that some of his readers will ask the questions; “who is my sister?” and “who is my brother?”. Just as did the lawyer, they seek to justify themselves. There are some brothers and sisters who are hard for us to love. We want to duck behind the door when we see them coming. They drive as crazy just to see them let alone talk to them. Never mind that we may do the same to others at times. We don’t have the time to listen to their needs or their complaints or they are not important enough to us to take time for them. John answers the unspoken question without equivocation. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is our brother and sister. John states that everyone who loves God (the One that begat) will also love His kids (the ones begotten of Him). There are no exceptions. It is also true, that I must forgive those that fail to treat me with love. It is amazing how long I can remember those who have snubbed me.
But wait a minute! What about those who have seriously injured me, sometimes in unspeakable ways? Or even worse, have seriously injured someone that is dear to me. God has a plan for this as well. It involves loving forgiveness but not always restored fellowship. Our sins may be forgiven but it takes repentance in order to restore our fellowship with God. God’s plan for loving restoration with one another is outlined in Matt. 18 where Jesus says “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector (Matt. 18:15-17). This plan involves the love of God.
But it is not the exception upon which John dwells. It is the everyday active love for one another that he stresses. God wants me to love my unlovable brothers and sisters as well as those who are easier to love. God’s grace does not immediately change the unlovable into being easy to love but it does allow me to love them. Being God’s message of love to the world means that we allow the love of God to shine through us to everyone. It begins with our brothers and sisters and continues to all those in the world, indeed all whom Jesus described as our neighbors. When I do not love a child of God I am simply saying that I do not love God.