Does John the Apostle’s life tell us anything about what it means to truly be a follower of Jesus? I think it does. We all can relate to Old John (ambitious, angry and arrogant – see Mark 10:35-39; Luke 9:52-56). The question is, can we relate to New John? This is not to say that real Christians can’t at time be hotheads, arrogant, and filled with self-importance. But it is to say that when we have a real faith encounter with Jesus, his love for us is increasingly formed in us. If I had more time I could develop this, but read through the Gospel of John and the epistles of John and over and over again, John calls God’s people to love each other with the same kind of love that we have received from Christ.
John’s main message is that if we truly know God’s love for us in Christ, we will love each other. If we don’t love each other, we don’t know the love of God.
Is that a relevant message for the church? How about for our relationships with one another? How about for Christian marriage and family? Love. Self-giving for the good and joy of another just as God self-gave for our good and eternal joy. Love like God, John says.
In fact, church history tells us that as a very old man, he was still pastoring the church in Ephesus. For his last sermon, they carried him into the assembly, and with a weak voice of an aged man, he said, Love one another. A three word sermon. Love one another.
It’s hard to believe that the guy who once wanted to destroy a whole village with fire from heaven would leave as his pastoral legacy, Love one another. But that’s what Christ’s love does. It changes us. It softens our hearts even to our enemies. It turns us into self-givers. How are you doing with that? Got some people in your life that if you could, you’d bring out the flamethrower and show them who is holy?
How about this question, if you were to write a gospel, what would you call yourself? Would your name be in bold? Or would you, like John, simply say, all I am is a disciple that Jesus mercifully loved? That was New John. Christians, do we get it? Do we realize who we are, and does this produce a humility that Christ would love somebody like me?
John writes and here’s the key, “we love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) John never got over his amazement. The disciple Jesus loved. Wow! Amazing love, how can it be? That thou my God shouldst die for me!
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
© 2012 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.