1 John 3:13-15

In 1 John 3:13-15 John gives us a startling truth – we may not be the most popular kid on the block.  “So don’t be surprised, dear friends, if the world hates you.” In fact, we need to prepare to be disliked or even hated.  He doesn’t want that to be a surprise to us as Christ Followers.  Why would that happen?  Because our life challenges the norm of the world.  It causes people to have to deal with the reality of their own life choices.  That can make them keenly aware that how they live may not align with God’s commands, and may even cause them to be faced with the reality of sin.  So rather than make changes in how they live, they may take out that frustration on those who cause them to be challenged.

But even if we are hated, we need to love people. “If we love other Christians, it proves that we have been delivered from hell and given eternal life. But a person who doesn’t have love for others is headed for eternal death.” A love for the people of God is a basic sign of being born again. If this love is not evident in our lives, our salvation can be questioned. If it is present, it gives us assurance.  If we are filled with hatred, or jealousy, or bitterness, we are in a place of death.  If Jesus is truly our Savior, we came from a place where we knew we were dead, but now know we have passed from death to eternal life.

So what does that love look like?  If we love the brethren, we will want to be with them – and even if we have been battered and bruised by unloving brethren, there will still be something in us drawing us back to fellowship with the brethren we love. There is no question that the church and God’s people can be extremely damaging at times.  Many have been hurt deeply by the church, or the people within.  But if we are born again, we must continue to seek God’s love through God’s people, even when it isn’t easy and they let us down.  It is the essence of loving one another – the desire to be together and live in fellowship with each other.

John draws a line in the sand about this love that is a requirement for a Christ Follower.  “Anyone who hates his Christian brother is really a murderer at heart; and you know that no one wanting to murder has eternal life within.” To hate our brother is to murder him in our hearts. Though we may not carry out the action, we wish that person was dead. Or, if we choose to ignore another person, we may treat them as if they were dead. Hatred can be shown passively or actively. Both are indications that we have a heart problem and need to be redeemed.  Barker wrote “In the heart there is no difference; to hate is to despise, to cut off from relationship, and murder is simply the fulfillment of that attitude.”  Are you loving God’s people in your patch?  If not, it’s time to seek a heart check and get right with them!

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