30 November – 6 December 2014.
1 John 3:1, 16–18 (Full chapter here).
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! … This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
We hear so much talk about love these days. So many pop songs sing about love, and at the cinemas so many romantic comedies describe the troubles and joys of love. We hear so much about love that we often think we know all about it. But often the love we speak about is very different from the type of love that is the core of Jesus’s teachings and Gospel. The love that Jesus speaks about is not just a happy feeling between two people. It is not just infatuation, not just a simple emotion that is here one day and gone the next. The love that Jesus speaks about is something deeper: it is a verb, an action, an active behaviour.
This love is something very concrete. To love other people in this way is to see them as real human beings, the same as ourselves. It is to see others as real people with their own struggles and challenges, their own difficulties in life. It means seeing them as God’s children, the same as we are. When we really see people in this way and understand their difficulties, love then pushes us to do something concrete for them: to care for them in the same way that God cares for us.
Here, John reminds us that this active love even extends to our possessions. If we have food, clothing, housing, the necessities of life, and we see others without these things, our Christian love doesn’t just drive us to feel sad for them. If we really have God’s love in us, we will share what we have with those in need, we will care for them and support them. God’s love isn’t just empty words, but is a love that is backed up with action: a love that actively helps.
This love is not easy. In fact, to love this way is incredibly difficult because we often don’t like to share with others. But this is what Jesus encourages us to do, and to do regularly. Because it can be hard, let’s practice it this week. As you go about your work, keep your eyes open for those in need. Is there someone with nothing to eat? Share a sandwich or a drink with them? Do you have too many clothes in your cupboards? Share them with people who don’t have enough. Use your hands to actively share God’s love with others. And in this way, let them know that they are also a loved child of God, just like we are.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis