This last week I had something unusual, unexpected, and scary happen in my life. I had a visit from my mother, whom I haven’t seen in several years, and my sister, who I had not seen in 13 years. My sister and I were always kind of close and if you know anything about my family history, you know that me spending time with family, especially immediate family can be rather difficult.
It wasn’t long after I was with my sister, that the good times started coming about. She started picking on me, having fun and making up for all of the times I picked on her when we were kids. Now understand, right now I weigh about 260 pounds, am a pretty tough guy, and my sister, well my sister is 110 soaking wet and a year younger than me. She was having fun and it wasn’t long before I was yelling out, “Momma, Sissy is picking on me.”
Now understand the relationship between my sister and I is kind of strange. I left home shortly before I was 14 years of age, and she left home during the second semester of her senior year of high school. In fact I was never around my sister much because I stayed away from home, we still bickered, had fun and were close despite the fact that we just weren’t around each other all that much. I think part of that has to do with the common bond we both had in growing up in the same house and in part going through some of the same issues at home. Despite the closeness though, we still found time to argue and pick on each other.
As I have become a dad, even though my children have a few years between them, I have seen that same bickering going on between them. I think it is something that is just natural for siblings.
Despite the bickering that can take place between siblings, did you ever wonder what it is that makes the bond between siblings so special?
Today I want to look in part at the following passage, 1 John 5:1-5
(1) If we believe that Jesus is truly Christ, we are God's children. Everyone who loves the Father will also love his children. (2) If we love and obey God, we know that we will love his children. (3) We show our love for God by obeying his commandments, and they are not hard to follow.
(4) Every child of God can defeat the world, and our faith is what gives us this victory. (5) No one can defeat the world without having faith in Jesus as the Son of God.
The Apostle John, the author of 1st, 2nd and 3rd John has done a marvelous job with this passage. I am appreciative that the passage is broken up appropriately. John is ending with the theme he has been teaching, the theme of maintaining assurance and confidence.
John is now talking about the relationship between fellowship, love, assurance, and confidence. Those themes are themes that flow throughout 1st John. There are also three truths or tests of Christianity John brings up in the previous passages, truth, righteousness and love. They all belong together, and the transition we have is appropriate and continues with those themes. I encourage you to read the earlier passages. These are short and won’t take long.
Let’s break down these verses for today and look at them.
5:1 - If we believe that Jesus is truly Christ, we are God’s children. Everyone who loves the Father will also love his children.
After the first 4 chapters and discourse on love John is now telling us who we are to love. Our first obligation is to love our brother or sister.
Our brothers and sisters is anyone who professes Jesus as the Christ and Lord. If we are not able to love them it is impossible to love our non Christian neighbor. If we can’t love both of these groups we can’t love God.
Remember, for the Christian, while we have family of flesh and blood, we also have spiritual family . In many ways, spiritual family becomes as close, or closer than family of flesh and blood.
This is a unique concept, but another family I belong to is the wrestling family. I have dear friends who are involved with this sport, the real sport not the fake kind. We have so many common interests, many of those individuals have become like family and we are close. This is not unique for other people. It might be people who become close or like family as a result of meeting on a message board, or even as a result meeting through other activities.
Of all of the things in life that is important, various things for various people, the spiritual is the most important. The Bible talks quite a bit about this. While I may have a group of friends who love computers, love for computers is not as important as the love of God. That doesn’t mean those things aren’t important, they are, but the relationship between humans and the creator, (God) is most important.
Now the next verse:
5:2 - If we love and obey God, we know that we will love his children.
If not able to exhibit this level of love and obedience as a start, a person is going to have difficulty loving others. I would ask the question of how can one represent Christ if not capable of following this basic instruction to love and obey God?
People love different things, peanut butter, cars, parents, our spouses, children, many others. God defined true love by sending his son Jesus. We can learn about the full measure of perfect love from God. We can learn by looking at various passages of Scripture that talks about God’s love.
We can see that God’s love is:
Lasting: Ps136, Ro 8:38,39, 1 Co 13:8
Sacrificial: Jn.15:12, 13, Ro 5:8, 2 Cor. 5:14, 15, Ga. 2:20, 1 Jn.3:16,17
Reconciling & Healing: Mt 5: 38-48, Lk 6: 27-31, 2 Co 5: 17-19
Effective: it involves not just words but deeds that benefit others: 1 Jn 3:18,19, 4:19-5:3.
Fearless: Ro 1:16, 1 Jn 4:18
Discerning: 1 Ti. 1:3-7, 1 Jn. 2: 15-17, 4:1-7
Accepting not condemning: Lk 15: 11-32, 18:10-17, Jn 3:16,17, Ro. 8:1
Generous: Lk 10:25-37, Ro 5:8, 15-17, 6:23, 1 Co 2:9, 1 P 3:8,9
1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter is one of the best definitions of love for the Christian. I would recommend reading it. It is a passage used in many weddings by followers of Jesus and non followers among others. It has been in movies, and has been credited as a perfect illustration of love.
When we see a brother or sister not loving each other, especially those who claim to be followers of Jesus, there is clear indication they are not loving and serving God in the way they should.
The next verse looks even further into this concept of love.
5:3 - We show our love for God by obeying his commandments and they are not hard to follow.
Loving others is not nearly as hard as hating them. Once we learn to love we learn that keeping God’s commandments is not difficult. Not loving produces gossip, heartache, hurt, harm, stress worry and all that will destroy and take away from the life God wants us to have.
The last two verses:
5:4, 5 - Every child of God can defeat the world, and our faith is what gives us this victory. No one can defeat the world without having faith in Jesus as the Son of God.
These lifestyle traits, display and witness to the truth and message of Jesus. When we carry on with gossip and unloving attitudes towards others we are working against the message that Jesus died on the cross for. We are told plainly and clearly here, we can defeat the world and it is our faith that gives us the ability to overcome the difficulties we face.
While we may believe in Jesus life and work in us, it is Christ who has defeated the world and it will be Christ who judges the world. How do we witness? How do we love? How do we live, knowing all that Jesus did for us?
If we can’t love our brother on earth who we see, how can we say we love God in heaven who we have never seen? Come on now, let’s stop pretending we love and really love each other not just in word but in action and deed.
Realize that if we don’t win the battle of loving others, then we have lost. If we loose this battle we loose the ultimate battle and do not have Jesus as Lord. There comes a time when we have to see Jesus not just as Savior, but also Lord.
It should be clear that if one is unwilling to fight this battle of loving each other and the world, then they are not fighting alongside Christ nor do they have Christ’s Spirit in them. The battle of loving others is a deep and difficult intellectual battle. What does it mean? Who do we love? Who is our neighbor? What about Democrats? What about Republicans? What about Muslims? What about Atheists?
It is time to quit playing games, stop pretending, quit making excuses and start loving. It is clear that is the command God has given, and the life he expects us to live.
I firmly believe there are 2 reasons the world thinks God is dead or don’t place much value in what they see of Christianity, they will fall into one or both of these categories.
(1) They are fools.
(2) They can’t see Christ living through the Christians they come into contact with.
We all face difficulties in this area, we all have challenges. Will we keep on going the way we are going, or will we overcome and learn to love others.
Overcomers have a special place in the world to come: Everyone who wins the victory will sit with me on my throne, just as I won the victory and sat with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21)
Overcomers overcome because the blood of Jesus overcomes Satan's accusations, the word of their testimony overcomes Satan's deceptions, and loving others overcomes Satan's violence.
Our people defeated Satan because of the blood of the Lamb and the message of God. They were willing to give up their lives. (Revelation 12:11)
Being born of God has an effect on our lives: it is assumed we love God (Him who begot us), because we are born into His family; but it is also assumed we will love others who are begotten of Him - our brothers and sisters, those who become a part of our Spiritual family. That family has different aspects of relationship, for some, maybe related through MySpace, others, The Virtual Pew, others via denomination, or even via Hollywood Jesus. You likely get my point, in our differences and different relationships we are still of the same family if followers of Jesus.
Today as I typed this I carried on a conversation with a minister in Pakistan who was telling me of the number of times he has been arrested for practicing his faith. He was telling me about his brother with cancer and about his church. I was able to relate, because in a strange sort of way, we are brothers. We sing some of the same songs, worship in some of the same ways, and will spend time with God in Heaven for all eternity.
This is the common ground of Christians - not race, not class, not culture, not language, nor any other thing except a common new spiritual birth in Jesus Christ and a common Lordship, (being our leader) of Jesus. Parents are upset, disgusted and hurt when they see sibling rivalry among their children, even when they know the kids are just being kids; how must God feel when He sees His children fight among themselves?
The Virtual PewP.O. Box 17731Wichita, KS 67217
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To become a part of The Virtual Pew, visit, http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ To learn more about me visit http://www.furches.org/ I am also active on MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/mikefurches I have another blog at http://blog.myspace.com/mikefurches To visit the Hollywood Jesus group at MySpace with membership by numerous Hollywood Jesus reviewers visit: http://groups.myspace.com/hollywoodjesus For a more in depth weekly study and conversation you an visit: http://virtualpewsermon.blogspot.com/ where you can access deeper teaching and ultimately videos for viewing and teaching. You can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com For those interested in knowing more about my own story, contact me for a free e-copy of my book The Keystone Kid in pre-edit form.