Living in a house with people is all kinds of good preparation for all kinds of whatever life is going to bring. That’s what I’ve been trying to communicate to my children this summer, anyway. As it has been impressed upon my heart to learn what it means to love my brothers and sisters in Christ, I’ve thought, maybe I can use teaching my children to love one another well and transfer that into loving their brothers and sisters in Christ well as they grow.
So, the conversations have gone a little like this:
“You know the ‘one anothers’ we talk about in scripture like ‘love one another,’ ‘serve one another,’ ‘forgive one another?'”
[Insert blank stares from everyone]
“If you learn to do those with your siblings, it is great preparation for learning to do those with your brothers and sisters in Christ.” And if you learn not to slap each other in the face and play tug-of-war with the bag of Boom Chicka Pop and scream ‘I hate you’ at the top of your lungs, this will be great preparation for learning to love your brothers and sisters in Christ.
So, as I was reading 1 John this morning, I got a good reminder:
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” (5:2)
John has strong words about loving our brother, Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness (2:9). Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother (3:10). If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar…” (4:20)
But, how does loving God and obeying his commandments show [by this] that we love our brother/sister?
I think the answer is in verses 8 and 16 of Chapter 4. God is Love. He is the exact definition, representation, manifestation, initiation, fulfillment. His law and his love are not exclusive of each another. When we love God first, we love his people.
It is. In and of ourselves.
What’s so incredible is that God never leaves us to carry out his commands on our own. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God (4:7). By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit (4:13). Whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him (4:16b). We love because he first loved us (4:19).
I will keep training my children to love one another well, of course. I will continue to model loving The Body well, hopefully. But, knowing these flow from the love of God that flows through us is key.