7My dear friends, we must love each other. Love comes from God, and when we love each other, it shows we have been given new life. We are now God's children, and we know him. 8God is love, and anyone who doesn't love others has never known him. 9God showed his love for us when he sent his only Son into the world to give us life. 10Real love isn't our love for God, but his love for us. God sent his Son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven. 11Dear friends, since God loved us this much, we must love each other.
12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is truly in our hearts.
13God has given us his Spirit. This is how we know we are one with him, just as he is one with us. 14God sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. We saw his Son and are now telling others about him. 15God stays one with everyone who openly says Jesus is the Son of God. This is how we stay one with God 16and are sure God loves us.
God is love. If we keep on loving others, we will stay one in our hearts with God, and he will stay one with us. 17If we truly love others and live as Christ did in this world, we won't be worried about the day of judgment. 18A real love for others will chase those worries away. The thought of being punished is what makes us afraid. It shows we have not really learned to love.
19We love because God loved us first. 20But if we say we love God and don't love each other, we are liars. We cannot see God. So how can we love God, if we don't love the people we can see? 21The commandment that God has given us is: “Love God and love each other!”
“Roman slaves and workshop owners were not used to sitting down at table and praying with Torah-observant Jews, and kosher Jews were not used to reading Scripture with prostitutes or migrant workers – and Paul thought this was the greatest vision of God’s way of living!” (Scot McKnight, A Fellowship of Differents p 52)
If we don’t often think about the second coming, still less do we reflect on the biblical truth that one day we will be judged and held accountable to God. As a result we don’t see God’s forgiveness as the greatest gift of love, but dismiss it as irrelevant. This bears some pondering. We need to hold two truths in tension, the justice of God and his love for us. We cannot begin to comprehend his love until we also begin to comprehend how much we have been forgiven and the price that Jesus paid.
Allow the reality and depth of God’s love to penetrate your whole being. Experience his forgiveness. Know what it is not to be afraid in his presence. Let this love transform you. Then next time you are in a church meeting, or among Christians with whom you have a profound difference, let your actions be determined by this love. Remember that the New Testament’s great passage on love, 1 Corinthians 13, was written to a church rife with quarrels. Truth matters, of course. John knew that. What will bring truth and fellowship is not the best argument or most forceful presentation, but the simple expression of godly love.
Lord Jesus Christ, teach me what it means to truly love someone. Help me to apply this rugged commitment to people in my church, to be with them, to be for them, and to seek with them to become Christlike together. (A Fellowship of Differents, p 53).