1 John 4:7-8 

 “Dear friends, 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.”


There really isn’t any argument about it; Christians ought to love one another.  Jesus, in Jn. 13:34, said: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”   If there was any debate, that statement ought to end it.  It is clear enough that love for one another is not suggested or encouraged, it is commanded.  And then Jesus added that this was the identifying mark that would set His disciples apart – make them known in the world.  So, to be obedient to the command of Christ we MUST love one another. 


Here is a question then: Is loving one another an essential part of God’s “plan of salvation?”  Or putting it another way, is there a certain “love quota” that each believer must reach in order to get into heaven?   The answer is, no; don’t make a theological mistake; love for the church cannot be the MEANS of salvation.  The Scripture is very clear that we are saved by grace through faith.  It is not our love that enables us to be saved; it is God’s love for us, expressed through the person and works of Jesus Christ.  However, when a person is born of the Spirit and trusts Christ, he is changed.  His heart attitude is different.  He becomes a “new creation.”  And sincere love for the body of Christ is primary evidence of that change.  Perhaps that is why “love” is listed first among the various aspects of the fruit of the Spirit (SEE Gal. 5:22-23a).  So love for God’s people is not the cause but the consequence of salvation – the fruit not the root.


It should be noted that the word “love” in all of the passages quoted and referred to here is the same.  It is not the same word we use when we say: “I love my car,” or “I love to play baseball.”  And it is probably not the same word we use when we say, “love you” before we hang up the phone.  This word “love” means: “to feel and exhibit esteem and goodwill, to prize and delight in another.”  This is an unconditional, sacrificial love.  Hence, Jesus said: As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” 


Yeah, if the church demonstrated a love like that, I think the world would notice, don’t you?


--- Pastor Keith Andrews