I’ve had a few people ask me why I don’t talk about particular sins here: you know the ones Baptists, especially, are supposed to attack. I mention “sin” in general but talk a lot more about grace. And forgiveness. And love. And mercy. There are two main reasons I’m generic with my discussion of sin. The first reason is that most of the people I know have an inner understanding of their sin. They know they aren’t right with God and they have an idea, wrong though it may be, about what they are doing that keeps God from loving them. They don’t need to be beaten over the head. They need to experience the love and grace of God. The second reason is that some people will keep score based on the sins mentioned in writings like this. “He wrote about xxxx sin and I do yyyy, so I must be safe. If someone is wondering about their sin, they don’t need me to convict them, they need to think about it and deal with God about their sin, not deal with me.
My goal in writing, is to remind people that no matter what they’ve done, they won’t move beyond the grace of God if they’ll seek Him. God is amazing. His love, forgiveness, and grace are beyond human comprehension. It amazes me, with all the grace and love that God offers, that some people want to focus on the negative. They would seek to scare you into following Jesus, usually at the top of their lungs because scaring people is so much easier when you’re extra loud. While Jesus warned of the fires of hell, He spoke of the grace of God, and many of these prophets of doom seem to have no knowledge of grace. John, who walked with Jesus every day for at least three years understood things like this: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:18-19)
John’s message, here and throughout this short letter overwhelmingly focuses on love. This whole chapter gushes with the love of God. How do we know that we are in Him? Our love for each other. We love God, but only because He loved us first. God didn’t sit around waiting for us to sigh reluctantly and half-heartedly tell Him that we love Him; He loved us first. He loved us so much that He sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. Does sin exist? Of course it does. If people could live without sin, it wouldn’t have been necessary for Jesus to die on the cross. When Jesus died on the cross, He died to bring forgiveness for every sin ever committed: past, present, and future. There is no one who can truthfully claim that they surprised God with their sin. He knew every sin, and still loved us enough that Jesus went to the cross to pay the penalty for all our sins.
If we truly understood the depth of God’s love for us, and for all people, it would change us in ways that we couldn’t even imagine. What if we loved each other the way God loved us? Would we need to try and scare people into heaven? No! People would want to experience the love that we share. How did John want people to recognize Christians? It wasn’t by their doctrinal purity. It wasn’t by their strict, legalistic behavior. John said that we would be recognized by our love. When that love is done right, when it comes from God’s perfect love, there is no fear. I don’t live each day wondering if I’m going to do something so wrong that God’s going to zap me. I know that even when I do wrong, God is going to love me and forgive me. I know that God is going to show me His grace, not His wrath. In the presence of God, I have no fear of consequences since I know I have His perfect love. May I share that love with others in all that I say and do.
Oh Lord, thank You for Your perfect love. Help me to find ways to share Your perfect love with others.