JuGod is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
This is quite a reading. On first glance, the reader may well pass over it, thinking it to be ‘yet another mushy reading about love’. But read on, and we’ll find it packs more of a punch than first we realised.
Having a younger brother, I know how hard it is to love our siblings all the time, yet love them we must; and that doesn’t just mean our biological siblings, but all those we come across from day to day. Christian, or not. Friendly, or not. Man or woman; rich or poor; young or old – there is no exception in God’s eyes.
But what does this mean for us?
Well, you know that Church Meeting where you’re planning to kick up a fuss? Perhaps re-read what you’re going to say, so you can truly say it in love. You know that person who always parks in your space at work? Perhaps consider how appropriate the note on their windscreen is. That homeless person you pass every day on the way to the newsagent? Perhaps consider whether you really need the loose change in your pocket.
This is love, I hear you say, but how is it Christian love? Isn’t Christian love about praying? Well, says James’ Epistle, “…faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” Jesus, in His earthly ministry, didn’t spend all day praying for others from within the Synagogue – He got out and about and helped those He came across: we love because He first loved us.
It seems that our faith is shown through our actions, and our actions are shaped by our faith.
Funny how things work out, really.
Heavenly Father, at times, we forget that showing and sharing Christian love is the cornerstone of our faith. May we, empowered by Your grace and mercy, be ever ready to share that love with others, ‘using words if necessary’. Amen
Michael RJ Topple is training to be a Lay Preacher, and is a member of Chappel URC, Essex.