Love Takes Action

Bob RoaneJesus Christ, Joy and Peace, Loving and Trusting God

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:9-11)

Eighteen Heroes Point to God

Ben is a Christian man whose son, Lennie, is mentally disabled. Ben believes with all his heart that God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is perfectly loving. And God proves it most pointedly by sending Jesus to save us from our sins. But Lennie can’t understand things the way other children do. He can’t understand facts and figures or Bible truths. And he can’t often read people too well. But both Ben and Lennie came to understand God’s perfect love better by the way others treated Lennie.

One afternoon Lennie and Ben walked past a baseball park and Lennie asked, “Will the boys let me play?” The father knew that most kids wouldn’t want his son. But Lennie wanted to belong and feel included, so Ben asked. One team captain said, “We losing by six runs and it’s the eighth inning. So I guess he can join our team, and we’ll let him bat in the ninth.”

In the ninth inning, Lennie’s team scored five runs! They have two outs, the bases are loaded, and surprisingly, they give the bat to Lennie! He doesn’t even know how to hold it or hit. However, the opposing pitcher moves in, and lobs the ball softly. Lennie swings clumsily and misses. His teammate wraps his arms around Lennie and together they hold the bat and face the pitcher. Lennie and his teammate swing and together they hit a slow ground ball. The pitcher intentionally throws it into right field, beyond first base.

Everyone yells, “Run, Lennie, run!” And Lennie scampers happily down the baseline, wide-eyed and surprised. By the time he reaches first base, the right fielder has the ball. He could’ve thrown to second, but he intentionally overthrows the third baseman’s head. Everyone yells, “Run to second, Lennie!” He gets there and the runners ahead of him circle the bases and score.

The opposing shortstop runs to Lennie and helps him to third base. As he rounds third, both teams and the onlookers scream, “Lennie, run home!” And he does! Both teams lift Lennie on their shoulders and celebrate him. As Ben retells the story, he speaks softly, tears rolling down his face. And he says, “They honored Lennie, but those eighteen self-less boys were the real heroes. They showed us a little of the Lord’s perfect love that day by the way they treated my son.” Ben told Lennie that God loves us even more than those boys, and Lennie said that he now understood God a little bit better.

John the Aged Apostle

All the apostles except John were martyred because of their commitment to Christ. Only John lived to an older age. He was about 88 when Christ took him home to heaven. Near the end, he was feeble, frail, and unable to walk, so his friends carried him into the gathering of believers every Lord’s Day (Sunday). Every week he would tell the other Christians, “Little children, love one another.” Some people questioned John why he repeated this so much. John replied, “It is the Lord’s greatest commandment, and if we really practice it rightly, it is enough.” John was echoing his master, Jesus Christ, who said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:12-14)

In 1 John, the apostle emphasizes love, because that’s what some of his 1st century readers were missing. And Christ-like love is often missing among Christians in the 21st century. John doesn’t neglect the need for the Holy Spirit, or solid doctrine, or righteous living in his writings, but he also emphasizes love. Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984) challenged the evangelical church: “Our love will not be perfect, but it must be substantial enough for the world to observe or we are not being true to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Imitate God’s Love

John writes, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)

These may be the peak verses, the high water marks of 1 John. God loves like the sun shines. The sun always shines, just as God always loves. It’s the sun’s nature to shine, to give warmth, light, healing, and growth. And it’s God nature to love. We may hide from the sun and lock ourselves in the dark, but we can’t keep the sun from shining. We may turn from God, but He keeps on loving. The Sovereign LORD says, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.” Jesus says, “I have come to call sinners to repent and believe on Me.” No matter how bad our choices, the Lord still loves us and is eager to salvage us. And because He loves us, there is always hope, always good news!

John says that love comes from God. God (the Father, Son, and Spirit) is love and the source of all love. The only true love human beings can practice comes from God the Holy Spirit. If we do not love like God, in a creaturely way, we prove we don’t really know the Lord, that we have not really been born again.

Where is there is no love, the Holy Spirit does not rule there….Christ loved all His people, that we may love each other….Whatever is lacking love is of no account in God’s sight….We must not focus on the sinfulness in other people, but appreciate the image of God in them….Christian love is ingenious in covering the faults of our brothers and sisters. (John Calvin)

Love is not just the Lord’s attribute, quality, and characteristic. Love is God’s nature. Scripture says God is spirit; God is light; God is love. So if we belong to God, if He’s at work in our lives, then we will love like God. That will be our driving disposition in the way we treat other believers.

Jesus says: By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:35)

To be continued.