“Dear friends,” the Apostle John wrote to his Christian friends in the family of the church, “let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son into the world as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4v7-10 – NIV).
The real Christian knows that God loves them. How do they know God loves them? Because they know that God sent his one and only Son the Lord Jesus to die in our place on the Cross, as John put it in v10: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
The real Christian knows that he or she was a rebel against God. He or she had turned away from God and deserved God’s condemnation. But because of his love God sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world to die on the Cross in our place taking the condemnation we deserve for our sins. That is what it means that Jesus was “an atoning sacrifice for our sins”. He died in our place taking the right and due punishment we deserve because of our sins.
The true Christian knows that God is love because God proved it by sending his Son Jesus Christ to die for us who did not deserve such love.
So how does the real Christian treat other people for whom Christ died? How does the real Christian treat the church family? The real Christian has the same attitude towards the church family as God has – love, love for the church family. “Whoever loves,” John says, “is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.”
Our God is a God who reaches out with his love towards undeserving sinners like you and me, so we need to reach out with God’s love towards one another in the Christian family, pursuing one another’s best and highest interests, speaking God’s truth to one another in love, praying for one another, serving one another in all sorts of spiritual, moral and practical ways – showing that self-sacrificial, self-giving, commitment love God has showed to us:
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we” – Christian people in the loving fellowship of the church – “that we might live through him.”