Could you imagine if Christians were known for the way they love others? Rather than the negative stereotypes about being hateful, judgmental, close-minded people, what if we became known for our love? There’s danger in posturing yourself to be seen as a loving-person, because then it could merely be a persona rather than a characteristic that is genuinely who you are. At the same time, I fear that we’ve become so concerned about being right that we’ve forgotten to be kind.
1 John 2:7-11 points back to Jesus’ command in John 13:34-35 to love one another. 1 John 2:9 goes so far as to say, “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” So the natural question is this, “Who is my brother? Who am I supposed to love?” Jesus was asked this same question after giving the Great Commandment, and he answered by telling the Parable of the Good Samaritan, then concluded, “Go and do likewise” (see Luke 10:25-37). Here’s Jesus’ (and 1 John’s too): show the love of God in action to everyone you come across. Love indiscriminately.
Those who first heard John’s letter were similar to us today: new Christians who were still figuring out what it meant to “follow Jesus,” adolescent-Christians who weren’t “baby Christians” anymore but they weren’t mature yet, and those who have faithfully walked with Christ for a long time and had become spiritual parents in the church. 1 John 2:12-14 issues encouragement to each of these categories of believers, urging them to continue growing into Christian maturity and intimacy with God.
One of the better known verses in the book is 1 John 2:15-17 where Christians are warned about the deceitfulness of this world’s desires. When you think about the way temptation works, it can be summarized well by these three categories: lusts of the flesh (“It feels really good!”), lusts of the eyes (“It looks really satisfying!”), and the pride of life (“It will make me look better than others!”). Sure, these may be temporarily satisfying, but they are hollow and short-lived. But whoever lives according to the desires of God will endure forever.
Are you constantly craving more out of life and wondering why God doesn’t satisfy your heart? Maybe that’s because you think you’re walking in the light but you’re actually blinded by the darkness! Pray to God and ask him to give you eyes to see where you really walk, and honestly evaluate whether or not you live with worldly desires or with Godly desires. God never promised to make worldly desires satisfying. In fact, he promised that you will always be left wanting more if you are chasing worldly desires. But notice that true contentment and fulfillment is reflected in the way that John describes the “spiritual fathers” as people who are satisfied because they know God… and knowing God is enough. When God is enough, we find ourselves turning our attention away from ourselves and onto the ways we can care for others in Christian love.