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. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3 16-18
This is where the rubber hits the road. True love is sacrificial love exemplified in Jesus laying down his life for us. But this is not just an example to be thankful for, to marvel at and then to carry on as if it hadn’t happened. Rather it is an example to be copied among the brothers i.e. within the church.
It is a demanding example for it means we cannot ‘speak’ of love or ‘do’ love lightly and at no cost. The love which John is writing about, the love that is from the beginning is a serving love, demonstrated by our actions and rooted in the truth. Such is increasingly absent in our ‘me first’ society as ‘I’ come first and truth has vanished from the public square.
Tertullian c.ad 160–c.225 – Roman theologian and Church Father from Carthage wrote the following in his Apologeticus ch. 39, sect. 7
‘Look,’ they (the pagans) say, ‘how they [Christians] love one another’ (for they themselves hate one another); ‘and how they are ready to die for each other’ (for they themselves are readier to kill each other).
Can we imagine such a thing being said of Christians today? Could such a thing be said of you or me at an individual level by an unbeliever? Can we imagine such a comment being made about the church any church?
If the answer is no then, and it is a difficult thing to say, we are falling far short of what God calls us to be.
Let’s examine ourselves and pray that our serving and Christlike love for one another will impact the world.
Breathe on me, breath of God:
fill me with life anew,
that I may love as you have loved
and do as you would do.