Perhaps it is ironically significant that today’s lectionary New Testament lesson is all about love. After an acrimonious season of electoral politicking, and a forward look at some more of the same, we need the message of this oft forgotten little epistle. And, so, yet another irony is that this brief letter is nestled in a place in the New Testament where few believers ever take a peek. Perhaps love itself has become a forgotten virtue among the very people entrusted to uphold its beauty and grace.
Everything in the Christian life rises and falls with love. Even to say this is a gross understatement because God himself is love. John is known as the Apostle of love, and he consistently and constantly espoused the primacy and permanence of love whenever he had the chance. Truth and love must go together, always. John says to the church, personified as a very special woman, “We love you because the truth is now in our hearts, and it will be there forever.”
The true muster of the church and of individual believers is their love. A profound lack of love is the litmus test that belies a faulty and heretical doctrine of Jesus. No love is always the clue that there is going to be some impure teaching behind it. The real enemy of Christ is the one who claims Christianity but does not love in either word or deed. If we really want to love God, we will love one another, and vice-versa.
Loving God, there is never a time when you do not love. Let that same virtue dwell in me all the time, as well, so that the world will know there is a God in heaven who cares. Amen.