7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who odes not love does not know God, for God is love.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen how can he love God whom he has not seen? I John 4:7, 8, 11, and 20
There is perhaps no better person to write about love, God’s love for us than John the beloved disciple of Jesus. He was the youngest of all the disciples, and perhaps this is why he had a greater affection for Jesus than the other disciples.
When John wrote His gospel his three letters to the churches had already been written.
Last Saturday afternoon I had the unique opportunity to give a Bible study to 24 individuals. What I did not realize at the beginning of the study is that about 1/3 of the people who attended the study were non-Christian, yet they believed in God. Which means 2/3 were Christian. The study lasted for an hour and a half and went well until the last 20 or 25 minutes, when it became clear by the nature of the questions being asked that it was going to escalate into a Christian vs non-Christian kind of situation, which is the last thing you want to happen when giving a Bible study. Strangely, it was the Christians that seemed to be the more upset at the non-Christians and seemed to be fueling the situation.
After silently praying a short prayer I asked them to all turn in the Bibles to I John 4:7. 8, 11, 20 and let’s read them.
I purposed a question before the entire group. If you call yourself and Christian and you cannot exhibit the type of love that John is talking about in this letter to the Christian church, then are we really following the principles of Christ, which also told us that we were to love our enemies.
In Exodus 20:7 which is the third commandment we read: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”
Looking at both groups the question was asked, “What does it mean to take the name of the LORD in vain?” The answers varied some, but most agreed we should not swear.
If one goes before the judge do we not swear to tell the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth? All agreed that is the case and there is nothing wrong with that type of swearing.
But let’s take this a step further. A man and a woman fall in love and decide to get married. They stand before the judge or minister and swear that they will be faithful to each other and honor each other and one takes the name of the other.
They become a married couple. But the next day the woman continues in her pervious lifestyle and is unfaithful to her new husband and continues to have carry on the affair she was having before getting married. She has taken the name of her husband at marriage, but because of her unfaithfulness she has taken the name of her husband in vain.
In the Bible we often see Christ’s church referred to as his bride. And in Antioch the name Christian was first used to signify that the people who followed Christ had taken on the personality or had taken on the name of Christ similar to the way a woman takes her husband’s name at marriage. So if we as a Christian have taken the name of Christ as our name calling ourselves Christians, then fail to live by the principles we just read about in John 4:7, 8, 11 and 20, then are we not taking God’s name in vain. When we call ourselves Christians but fail to live up to the principles of Christ then we are taking Christ’s name in vain and in so doing tarnish the name Christian among non-Christians. Jesus was accepting of all people no matter their faith affiliation when he was on earth. Sure he was upset with the Jewish religious leaders, but he was only upset at them for putting more requirement on the people because of their man-made traditions and their failure to understand His true mission.
What is amazing is that there are times when I see more tolerance for differences in people with non-Christians than I actually do in Christians.
Matthew 22:37-40 says “Jesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your god with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Oh, yes, we need to dislike sin, but as a Christian who has taken the name of Christ as his name, then like Christ we should love all those around us no matter who or what their religious beliefs should be. God loved the sinner so much that he sent His son to rescue those that take the name of Christ as their name. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? I John 4:20
Let our prayer daily be, Lord, teach me to love as you have loved us. Amen