Formations lesson for Jan. 25: Following God ... in Love : Friday, Jan. 9, 2004
January 9 2004 by Jimmy Allen

Formations lesson for Jan. 25: Following God ... in Love : Friday, Jan. 9, 2004
Friday, Jan. 9, 2004

Formations lesson for Jan. 25: Following God ... in Love

By Jimmy Allen
Focal passage: 1 John 4:7-21

We live in the "sound bite" age. Political candidates know it. Savvy public relations officers know it. Reporters know it.

A short sentence or phrase that captures someone's thinking is not only more likely to be broadcast or printed, it is also likely to be remembered by the audience hearing or reading it. That happened for me in listening to a radio news broadcast originating from the British Broadcast Company. The reporter was telling the audience about a virtuoso guitarist from the East Coast of Italy. She referred to the guitarist as "Jimi Hendrix on an acoustic guitar." Hendrix was a left-handed, hard rock musician of the 1960s and 1970s who made notes on his electric guitar lasts for seconds. I didn't hear the similarity to the Italian's acoustic play, and the Italian didn't include Hendrix on his list of musicians influencing him. But his music does reflect an unrehearsed freedom that was a trait of Hendrix' play. So the description of the Italian guitarist caught my attention. It was a memorable "sound bite."

Good "sound bites"

1 John 4:7-21

The passage from 1 John 4 contains numerous "sound bites." Consider these phrases: "God is love," "perfect love casts out fear," "we love because He first loved us," and "those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen." Each one of those phrases and others in the passage is worthy of a lesson in itself. This is a passage of many memorable lines.

Yet we see a common thread running through this entire passage. That thread is love, a word used 27 times as either a noun or verb during those 15 verses. In particular, the passage can be summarized by the first part of verse 7: "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God."

Great commandment

A lawyer was trying to test Jesus by asking Him to name the greatest commandment. Jesus replied: "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matt. 22:37-39, NRSV). In essence, we are to love God and to love others. 1 John puts details to Jesus' telling of the great commandment, and the writer weaves those elements together.

Love one another

The sermon of 1 John was written to the Christian community and the writer states "let us" love one another. No trait is more important for a community. But do we always show love to one another in our churches? Maybe we devote our energy and time to judge a fellow member, looking for hypocrisy so we can feel better about ourselves. (In so doing, we are committing hypocrisy.) Maybe we see ourselves in competition with fellow members to see if we are the most active, the most virtuous. Maybe we don't see one another as being part of God's creation.

The passage in 1 John doesn't define love. But 1 Corinthians does. In the famous chapter about brotherly and sisterly love, Paul writes that love is patient, kind, not envious or boastful, not arrogant or rude, doesn't insist on its own way, is not resentful or irritable, does not rejoice in wrongdoing, rejoices in the truth, bears all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Can we apply those traits to ways we treat one another in our churches?

Love God

We don't love one another on our own accord. We love because God first loved us.

The great commandment is about our responsibility to love God and to love others. This passage from 1 John tells why we love God and others. It's because God first loved us.

When I served as a youth minister, I would often end our discussions with a reaffirmation to the youth that God loves them. It's a simple yet profound message. And it's a message we need to realize every day, and it's one we need to show everyday.

How do we know that God loves us? We know it because God sent His only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. If we know that love, we need to show it to others. This passage from 1 John shows we can't separate our love for God and love for one another.
1/9/2004 12:00:00 AM by Jimmy Allen | with 0 comments

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