1 John 4:18-21 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother or sister, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother and sister.
John is pretty straightforward in his teaching… “You hate your neighbor down the street? But go to church on Sunday mornings? And you profess to believe in God and love him? You’re a liar!”
He says it pretty point-blank. What a clear reminder to us today.
In Genesis 1:27, it states that we were all made in the image of God. We’re all brothers and sisters in him. If we do not love our brothers and sisters, who are created in Christ’s likeness, how are we to love God himself, who we don’t even see?
How often does Satan convince you to live in fear? Maybe it’s because something is out of our comfort zone, or we lack confidence. Fear can’t be our binding factor, as it says in verse 18. We tend to fear because we forget that God made us in His perfect love. God’s great love can cast away all of our fearful thoughts.
We must not fear new relationships or avoid loving someone because we have nothing in common with them. God calls us to love ALL, because love first comes from him. It can be hard to connect with someone that looks different than us, speaks different than us, lives a lifestyle different than us, but God calls us to love anyway.
When we love God, when we fully embrace the fact that He’s adopted us as His own, we must take the bold step out of our comfort zone and into a relationship with our other brothers and sisters in Christ. As we’re adopted into the family of Christ, we aren’t all going to look the same, act the same, or think the same, but we’re family. We’re each His children and we are called to love one another because He first displayed this great love.
How do these verses hit home for you? Have you lived in hate toward a brother or sister, a neighbor, a co-worker, an employer, a person you saw walking down the street? How can you redirect your heart and mind toward a relationship of love for that individual?
God, thank you for loving us, despite our unworthiness. Lord, help us to love like you love, because love first comes from you. Help us to identify the relationships in our lives that have been a barrier to living fully in relationship with you. Help us to love deeply, love without limits, and love like you love.