Introduction:A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that John urges his readers to really focus on loving one another. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to work on really loving one another, as friends in Christ.
Read I John 4:7-12
I. Goal. John urges his readers to love one another. In our Sunday School material He talks about God being love. God loved us so much that He sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Believers loving one another is evidence of God living in them.
- Christian friendships. Notice in vs. 7 that believers ought to love one another as friends. Church should be a place of Christian friendships.
Too often church is a place of friendly strangers. In many cases, we don’t even know each other’s names. Let’s work on being a church of friendships.
Growth groups do a better job with this than service or teaching opportunities. We need service and teaching opportunities, but friendships help us to retain members and help us to grow.
Sharing our discipleship goals, our joys and concerns, praying for one another, discussing how to live by God’s word, and serving with one another (i.e., growth groups) all help us develop at least casual friendships.
- Godliness calls for loving one another. Notice in vs. 8 of our Sunday School material that a lack of love essentially shows a lack of being right with God.
It is not of God for us to have all kinds of Bible knowledge, refrain from vices (e.g., smoking, drinking, having sex outside or marriage, etc.), and attend worship regularly but don’t love and relate to the rest of God’s people. Let’s work on loving one another.
- Love gives. Notice in vs. 10 that love gives. God loved humanity so much that He gave His only Son. In like manner, when we say “I love you,” we should look at what do we give because we say such words. What we give is often a measure of how much we really love.
We can at least give prayer support, a listening ear, a helping hand, and support the church’s efforts (i.e., tithes and offering along with volunteering) to provide benevolent funds for members and donations to community organizations. Let’s make sure we have a giving love.
- God’s love for us. Notice in vss. 11, 19 that God loving us should be the source of our loving one another. There are obviously some people who are more difficult to love than others. But the reason we should keep on trying is because God loves us, in spite of how difficult we can be to love.
Think about how we can be difficult for God to love even today (e.g., lack of worship, lack of daily devotional time, lack of tithes and offerings, lack of evangelism, lack of trust, etc.). Let’s work on loving one another because God loves us.
Read I John 4:13-19
II. Results. John continues to talk about loving one another in our Sunday School material. He tells us again about God being love and our need to live in love. He goes on to talk about how love casts out fear. The readers are urged to love because God first loved them.
- Jesus is the savior. Notice in vs. 15 that believers acknowledge that Jesus is the savior. There is all kinds of division in the world and even in religion. However, there should be a certain level of unity among those who acknowledge that Jesus is the savior.
Jesus being savior is more important than what day we worship on, what style of worship we participate in, what form of church governance we use, and other things that we tend to be concerned about.
We can choose to be in one church without condemning those in another church who acknowledges that Jesus is the savior. Let’s make sure we keep a high value on Jesus being the savior.
Baptist and Pentecostal Christians should be able to get along in areas that Christians and others (e.g., Jehovah Witnesses, Jews, and Muslims) cannot.
- Judgement is coming. Notice in vss. 16-18 that God is love. His calling us to live in love means that we don’t have to live in fear of being punished at judgment. Nor do we have to live in fear of our love being rejected by people.
If people reject our love, that is their lost. God will bless us for obeying His command to love one another. Let’s live like we believe that loving one another is a key issue for judgment.
This kind of living should be known for friendliness, affection, empathy, and responding to needs with our gifts and personalities (i.e., GPS challenge).
Conclusion: Let’s work on really loving one another, as friends in Christ. God has much for those who obey His will.