Why do we take the attention off of what a verse is really trying to say? Why do we try to glean different messages from scripture rather than deeper messages? I hate that we do this, and I’m ashamed to say that I have done it many times on this blog.
“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”
–1 John 4:8
Pretty straightforward. If you know God you will love other people, right? Well… what did I just say about reading scripture literally? I said we don’t do it enough. This verse is a stellar example. What does the verse say? “Oh, it says that people who know God love others”. Wrong. It doesn’t draw attention to the Christian. Why? Because the verses here in 1 John, and really the entire book can be summarized by 1 John 5:13
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
–1 John 5:13
The book is about examining ourselves to see whether we be in the faith. It was written so that believers might know that they are saved! “He that loveth NOT knoweth not God.” This is a proof of salvation and a dead-to-rights identifier of an unbeliever.
What About Christmas?
Christmas is a time for joy. Why? Because as Christians, we look back to the origin of our hope and ahead to the fulfillment of that hope. And we can trust and hold fast to our assurance of salvation in Christ being born, living, dying, and rising again to break the power of death.
More so, we can have joy because the love of God is in us.
If I don’t love someone, the opposite of love is hate. That gap between love and hate is not so wide as we want to believe it is. The pastor Sunday night asked the congregation to close their eyes and think of someone they love. I thought of several people specifically and immediately. He then asked us to think of someone we didn’t like, (“hated”, but he didn’t say it), and I’m ashamed to say I thought of a few people. It was more difficult to think of people I disliked than that I loved. But really, if I can honestly say I do not love someone, I hate them.
If love is conditional and reactionary only; if love is not a lifestyle; if unforgiveness, malice, selfishness, and hatred characterize who you are… The love of God does not dwell in you. God’s Love is unmerited, unconditional, and everlasting limitless. If we do not show that same love to others, or find it difficult to love others, the love of God isn’t in us. And a lack of love will steal your joy. More, it is impossible to have true joy without love. Joy is of God and without the love of God it is unattainable.
The order of events
Loving not = knowing not God
It doesn’t list the cause first, but the effect. Why? Because humans only see the surface level. John is giving us the symptoms to recognize the disease. As Christians we always like to make everything about us. It’s not! There are other people in this world whom Christ died for. John is giving us the means of recognizing them here in this passage. If a man does not love, he does not know God. A man whom knoweth not God cannot love. Why? Because God is love.
This Christmas season, I’d like to challenge us to look past the smiles on the faces of people we meet and see into the broken hearts. Christmas should be the most joy-filled time of the year. But a heart without love is a heart without joy. Those who do not know God personally, cannot feel the magic of the season. Share Christ and you can truly bring joy to the world.
As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist