Real Faith: Real Love
1 John 3:14-20
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us…”
1 John 3:16
We sure do have a tendency to throw around the word ‘love’, don't we?
I love Starbucks. I love macaroni and cheese. I love you. I love God.
The word escapes our lips so often we probably don’t even notice it, but isn’t it weird that we can use the same word to express our devotion to delicious cheesy pasta and to our Lord? I’m starting to think that it’s almost as if we don’t actually know what we’re saying.
It’s almost as if we have come to believe that ‘love’ is just some positive emotion we feel toward someone or something that makes us stumble over our words or get butterflies in our tummy. It’s almost as if we’ve been conditioned to believe that love is something we feel today although tomorrow we might feel differently. It’s almost as if we don’t actually know what love is.
So then the apostle John comes along and, in no uncertain terms, teaches us a thing or two.
“By this we know love, that he [Christ] laid down his life for us…” (1 John 3:16a).
Real Love, according to John, is not just some feeling. Real Love is not simply an emotion. Real Love is none of that because Jesus shows us that love...Real Love...acts. Real Love does stuff. How do we know? Because Jesus didn’t just send us a greeting card. He laid down His very life for us. Jesus didn’t just feel something toward us. He acted concretely to save us from sin, death, and the devil.
So when Jesus calls His disciples to ‘love one another’ and when Jesus calls His disciples to ‘love their neighbors as themselves’ this is the kind of love that He’s talking about. When Jesus tells His disciples to love, He is telling us to love with this kind of self-sacrificing love that puts the other before ourselves.
If this sounds difficult, if not impossible, you’re right. It is. Each of us only has so much to give and, after a difficult week, the tank is near empty. The good news, though, is that Jesus has not left us alone in our task to love one another as He has loved us. He continually fills us up with His love and mercy and grace so that His love overflows to everyone else we know. John says it this way, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Real Love comes from Jesus. Real Love fills us up and then sends us out into the world to love like our Savior. Real Love acts.