The book of 1 John is an incredible book of the Bible. While it’s only five chapters long, it’s packed with so much truth and conviction for Christ-followers. The writer of this epistle, the disciple John, is now in his old age. He was one of the closest eyewitnesses to the life and ministry of Jesus and has lived the remainder of his life spreading the gospel to anyone who will listen. He writes his epistles, or letters, to the new Christians in the Roman empire.
John takes the majority of his letter to focus on just a few themes. The main focus is on love. The kind of love that Jesus had for us is the same love we are to show to one another. If you recall in the gospel of John, about 1/3 of the book is just recording the words Jesus spoke to his disciples before he was crucified. Jesus’ primary message: Love one another. John seems to recall this conversation in his old age and as he sees what’s going on with early Christians, it’s time for them to get a reminder of this basic yet critical command.
John takes the time in his letter to display two aspects of love that are essential for Christians to embrace and live out in order to be seen as disciples of Jesus — we need to love God and we need to love others!
If I could summarize what I believe John is trying to express as love for God in one word, I believe the word would be “obedience”. In 1 John 2:5 it says, “But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them.” (NIV) If we obey God’s word, that is how we show that we love him. John concludes his letter by affirming his position in 1 John 5:3 and says, “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome”. (NIV) Loving God is simple but often difficult for us to do. When we obey God we will show that we love him.
John weaves the thoughts of loving God and loving others so masterfully in his letter. In chapter 2 he talks about how if we don’t love our brothers and sisters we are “still in darkness” (1 John 2:9). However, if we do love our brothers and sisters then we “live in the light” (1 John 2:10). Additionally, in 1 John 4:20 he says, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” Bottom line, if you can’t show love to others on earth, how can you possibly love God or even know Him
The message of God that has been delivered through John’s letter is as clear now as it was then. We as Christ-followers should love extravagantly in two ways. Let us be recognized as followers of Christ for the way we love God and love others.
To read the entire chapter of 1 John, click here.
If you’re looking to learn more about the 1 John, check out our DiscipleU course, 1 John here.