Lately, I’ve become aware that we live in a world that is filling with hate. Our brothers and sisters are being slaughtered and each time I turn on the news, it seems there is more tragedy at the hand of man. (Bringing back memories of Cain and Abel anyone?) Sure, there are the feel-good fillers about the elderly reaching the 100 year plus milestone and celebrations of human dedication and triumph in sport and ingenuity, but on the whole I often get more depressed by the state of our world and wonder what kind of world my children will grow up in.
The articles “Does Islam Inevitably Lead to Violence” (Caleb Greggson) and “The FAQS: Islamic State Beheads 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya” (Joe Carter) over at the Gospel Coalition, made me grow in awareness of the causes of some of these tragic killings and I also became more aware of the tough call for us as Christians to be filled with love, instead of fear and hate.
As we read through the book of 1 John, we quickly see the theme of love emerge. We can be struck by the love the Father has lavished on us in 1 John 3:1 and are reminded to love God (1 John 4:7) rather than the things of the world (1 John 2:15-17). John then writes that we will be known by our love:
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so love us, we also ought to love one another. no one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:7-12).
Did you catch that? We love because God first loved us, seen most evidently in his gift of Jesus. We then will be known as a child of God because of God’s love being lived out in our lives (1 John 5:1). In God’s Kingdom, it is love that overcomes the dark evils of the world (1 John 5:4) and most specifically, the love through Jesus and belief in him (1 John 5:4-5). You see, our faith and love in Jesus cannot be taken from us, it is a light that is ever-shining. We are not of this world and so no matter what comes, our love for Jesus radiating out of us through our joy and hope and assurance of faith cannot be suppressed.
It is helpful to be reminded that our world looks dark, because it is: “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19). It is also good to remember that as children of God, we have knowledge of the true light in Jesus and can grow more and more to know him and become like him, “we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ.”(1 John 5:20). Let us remember “He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20 b) and so we are to love and hope in him. We are to keep ourselves from the love of the things of this world and be filled with love for the world as it is in darkness and needs to be illuminated with the love of Jesus. We also have hope: one day we will be enveloped in this love tangibly, as we are reunited with him and the rest of our family. Oh the depth of his love, and the sweet sweet mercy and grace shown through our glorious Saviour!