God is love.
God is light.
As I read through 1 John, these are the two statements that keep coming back to me. They’re such simple concepts: love and light. John is defining what it means to be a child. If a proper understanding of God is to see Him through the lens of love and light, why is He so misunderstood?
The problem isn’t God’s revelation of His own character in these two simple words; it’s our human failure to really understand what those words mean, and the rejection of them as God intended.
I’ll give you one example.
1 John 2:9-10; 3:15 – The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. But the one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. … Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
Who is our brother? Our human tendency is to put some parameters on the word “brother,” but scripture leaves no doubt that in John’s mind, the word “brother” means any other human being. He’s established his credibility in teaching in the opening of his letter when he reminds us that he heard, saw, looked at, and touched with his hands the very Word of God – Jesus Himself. John walked and talked with Jesus, and he has the God-given authority of the Holy Spirit to explain these things to us. By reminding us that Jesus was a real person, he is defining exactly what “brother” means.
Jesus came in human flesh to His brothers. He came as the firstborn of all creation – humanity. Anyone walking around with skin on is our brother.
Hebrews 2:17 – Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
Hebrews 2:14 – Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same…
It’s clear that since God’s very character and nature is love, and we have been made partakers of that divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), we are to love others – all others – with the same kind of love God has for the world. There is no room for hate, no matter how trivial or important our differences may be.
Let’s translate that commandment, to love our brothers, into our present-day reality, where our nation has become consumed with labeling one another, and as a consequence, hating one another.
Because of the political fallout from the last six years, in the public arena of discourse, “Christian” has somehow become synonymous with white supremacy and racism. Media coverage has beat this dead horse into the ground, asserting that Christianity was built on these ideals and painted all professing Christians with a broad stroke because some conservative, Christian groups publicly aligned themselves with a political candidate who was also supported by groups that actually are racists. And yes, there are some groups who claim the label, “Christian” and also support the hatred of their brother. God’s love has been misrepresented by association.
But here, in God’s Word, where the source of truth is, we see that racism, white supremacy, and any other kind of hatred toward our fellow human beings is directly opposite of Christ’s teachings. To hate others is to give evidence that we do not belong to Christ at all. Christians are called to love their brother and to hate is to disqualify yourself from claiming the name of Christ.
Just because someone says they are a Christian does not mean they truly belong to God.
Just because someone says they are a Christian does not mean they believe the Bible or have even read it.
Just because someone says they are a Christian does not mean they live by the commandments of Jesus.
I propose that throughout history and certainly today, people “identify” as Christians who have no part of Jesus in their spiritual DNA. They have no clue what it means that God is love, nor what it means when God says it’s wrong to hate our brother. They have rejected God’s revelation and substituted their own theology. They do not belong to the family.
I entitled this blog, “Can A Christian Hate?” but perhaps it should be, “Can A Hater Be Christian?” Real Christians, those who truly know and belong to Jesus, love others. God is love, and the love of God leaves no room in our hearts for hate.
If we have hatred towards any other human being, no matter who they are or what they’ve done, we need to examine our own hearts. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to expose our own sin, confess it, and ask Him to give us God’s love for others. Loving doesn’t mean agreeing with or condoning sin, but it does call for compassion, mercy, sacrifice – the kind of love that God showed us. It means treating others as valuable and precious creations who are made in the image of God and in need of redemption and salvation.
Tomorrow we will talk about the other word, “Light,” but for today, is there anyone in your life that you are struggling to love? Have you “redefined” the words of scripture to allow yourself the freedom to see others as less worthy of God’s love than you? If they’re human, they’re your brother, and God commands you to love them.