Day 5

Love in Action

from the reading plan

1 John 3:11-24, Deuteronomy 15:7-11, John 16:7-14, Romans 12:9

Community, even in a time where it looks different than we are used to, is one of the greatest blessings of the Christian faith. Sure, everyone can have “community,” but not everyone is quite literally brought into one Body, with God Himself as the head (Colossians 1:18). When my family and I moved halfway across the country last year, our new church community made us feel loved. We felt welcomed in, not isolated.

My neighbor, Neil, is recently a widower. His wife of several decades lost her battle with cancer just after we moved in, and he was left all alone. For the first several months of living next to him, we rarely spoke. I’d give him the occasional “Hey, neighbor!” wave when we were both in our driveways, but not much more. Neil was alone, and I barely even cared. Worse, he didn’t know Jesus—and I knew it.

Here’s the tragic part: I was willing to drive fifteen minutes to our community group every week, but I wasn’t willing to pick up the phone to connect with Neil. I cherished the love and comfort from our church when we were alone in a new city, but I didn’t extend that comfort to Neil when he was mourning his closest companion. Aside from a half-hearted invitation to someday eat dinner with our family, I didn’t connect with him. I let him feel isolated.

In 1 John, the word “brothers” refers to other Christians. So when John says, “If anyone has this world’s goods and sees a fellow believer in need but withholds compassion from him—how does God’s love reside in him?”, he is talking about loving our Christian brothers and sisters (1John 3:17). When we moved to town, we felt this immediately. We even shared that love by serving others in our community group.

The Holy Spirit lives inside of us, according to verse 24, so that our love for one another can continue to thrive. God’s love is perfect, and God’s love is inside of us, which means we’re set up for success. And “when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide [us] into all the truth” (John 16:13). That’s a pretty good arrangement.

But unlike me, God doesn’t separate Christian community and Christian mission. We don’t merely have the Spirit inside of us to help us love each other; we also have Him in order to love others. The unloved and isolated. My community group and my neighbor Neil.

If we love Christ, the world will hate us (John 15:19). They won’t understand us quite like our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is understandable. But that doesn’t negate the Great Commission to “go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). This doesn’t start in Zambia or South Korea for me; it starts to the right and left of my house.

We should love other Christians, showing the world God’s love through our love for one another (John 13:35). In many ways, that’s the easy part, but we should not stop there. The Spirit also empowers us to remember those who are not yet brothers and sisters. Christ came to seek and save the lost, so we, too, must follow Him to pursue others.

Written by Brandon Smith

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2 thoughts on "Love in Action"

  1. Ryan says:

    I love the outward focus of this post. It makes me think about how Jesus said in Jn 13:34-35 that it’s BY how you love one another (basically, living out the 1 John 3 text from today) that all will know we are his disciples. That is a big challenge because of how compartmentalized things are in my cultural context. How can my community of believers overlap with my neighbors who don’t know Jesus in such a way that John 13:35 can practically happen? It’s a tough question that, depending on cultural context, may take long-term commitment by the entire community to wrestle with.

    Besides that, to be honest, this chunk of 1 Jn text really challenged me. Not because of anything in particular he said, but because his thoughts seem to be so pop-corned together in a nonlinear fashion. It’s a style of writing that I am not used to. It’s like, I want to get the point he’s trying to make. But it’s almost like he’s not building one point, but rather delivering a spitfire array of related points.

    One theme I am seeing repeated here is the being able to KNOW who are the children of God, and who aren’t. He explains how to “know” this 4 times in this section (5 if you include verse 10). Why? Two possibilities come to mind—first, so they/we won’t be led astray by those who claim to be in him, but live into sin (3:7), second—so they/we would be peacefully assured ourselves of our eternal life (5:13).

    Regardless, the way to know is by observing obedience (3:10), ESPECIALLY the command to love one another (3:14,15). This is something that our hearts can affirm or condemn in us (3:19). And in case that’s not enough popcorn, it’s by the Spirit of God that we have the assurance (3:24).

    I’m not sure exactly how to live this out yet, but it’s something I want to process more with my church family, as well as the really good stuff Brandon wrote in today’s post.

  2. Charlie says:

    In the midst of COVID-19 isolation, our pastor has asked some of us to reach out to the community and church members to show them the love and care of the church. As a far-over introvert this has been something I have been struggling with today. The reading and discussion today has helped clarify this and really helps me see it in perspective. Thank you

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