Lessons from John: Love comes first

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. 1 John 4:7-11

The Apostle John was a lot like his brother, James. He came from a well-connected successful family, but his key character trait was ambition. He was right there, shoulder-to-shoulder with James when they asked to be seated by Jesus’ side when He came to power (Mark 10:35-37). He was right there, side-by-side with him when they asked Jesus if they could rain fire on a village full of people (Luke 9:51-56). And he was right there next to James during the Transfiguration (Matthew17:1-9). In fact the only time John takes the initiative to stand out on his own is after the disciples are rebuked for arguing about who is greatest (Mark 9:33-39), and in doing so he earns a second correction. Jesus didn’t call them the “Sons of Thunder” for nothing!

But John would change. He would grow and learn and ultimately earn the moniker “Apostle of Love.” Despite exile, persecution and other catalysts for anger, bitterness and revenge, John passionately calls Christians everywhere to love one another. His message never wavers; his voice never cracks. It took more than 3 years of walking with Jesus for him to grasp how God’s love works, but once he did, his life became a constant reminder to us all that our highest ambition should not be to correct sin, fight injustice or learn doctrine, but to love God and one another so much that it just pours out us like a spring from the ground. When that happens, sin will get corrected. Justice will be served. Doctrine and theology will be learned. When love comes first, when it becomes our highest motivation, the world will be different.

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