In our previous Discovering Love posts, we determined that loving one another is the central purpose of our lives as outlined in the Christian faith. So why has the topic been so neglected and overlooked in the church? Jesus points to this as one of the signs of the end:
Evil will spread and cause many people to stop loving others. – Matthew 24:12
The word “love” here is translated from the Greek word “agapē.” This is the type of love that God shows to us and the love we are to show as Christians. Agapē is not something generated by the world. We are God’s agapē outlet to the world. This is a prophesy that love will cease to be important to the church.
When love ceases to be important to the church, God ceases to be important. As John, revealing a hidden mystery about the nature of God wrote in his epistle:
“God is love.”
Love is the nature and essence of who He is. When we try to sidestep this in favour of “spiritual success,” we should expect to fail! Begin at the beginning and learn to love one another. Love through offense. Love through trials. This is the rule that each Christian will be measured against:
My dear friends, we must love each other. Love comes from God, and when we love each other, it shows that we have been given new life. We are now God’s children, and we know him. God is love, and anyone who doesn’t love others has never known him. God showed his love for us when he sent his only Son into the world to give us life. Real love isn’t our love for God, but his love for us. God sent his Son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven. Dear friends, since God loved us this much, we must love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is truly in our hearts. God has given us his Spirit. That is how we know that we are one with him, just as he is one with us. God sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. We saw his Son and are now telling others about him. God stays one with everyone who openly says that Jesus is the Son of God. That’s how we stay one with God and are sure that God loves us. God is love. If we keep on loving others, we will stay one in our hearts with God, and he will stay one with us. If we truly love others and live as Christ did in this world, we won’t be worried about the day of judgment. A real love for others will chase those worries away. The thought of being punished is what makes us afraid. It shows that we have not really learned to love. We love because God loved us first. But if we say we love God and don’t love each other, we are liars. We cannot see God. So how can we love God, if we don’t love the people we can see? The commandment that God has given us is: “Love God and love each other!” – 1 John 4:7-21 (CEV)
Loving one another is our mandate while we wait for Jesus to return. Everything else the church does derives from this commandment.