We Love Our Neighbors: The True Nature of Love

The story below is not my own and can be found here

There once was a little boy named Michael who grew up in a kingdom far away, in a time long ago. Michael was a poor child who had been abandoned by his parents. To make money he would work as a farmer for anyone who would give him a place to live and food to eat. Michael lived in a place that had scolding hot summers. The sun would get so hot that often times it would destroy their crops for food.

One day, as the little boy was working along the roadside in the blazing sun, he got so hot that he fainted. It just so happened that the King of the kingdom was passing by and saw Michael’s lifeless body on the ground. The King got off his horse, picked up the boy, and brought him to his castle.

After Michael had gotten some rest, the king offered the boy to stay in his castle to work for him as a hired servant. The little boy leaped for joy! He would finally be safe in the king’s house from any threats that came from being out in the world. He would be able to always have food, water, and a comfortable bed!

There was only one condition, he had to obey the rules of the king or else he’d be thrown out of the king’s castle. After years of living with the king, Michael became a teenager. He decided that he no longer wanted to follow the rules of the king. Instead, he wanted to make the rules. Secretly, Michael had it in his heart that one day he would set up his own kingdom.

So, the teenager devised a plan. Each night, when everyone was asleep, he would go into the treasury and steal a small amount of money. Because the Kingdom was so profitable, it appeared that no one seemed to notice anything was missing. All Michael needed was a few more years of stealing from the treasury and he would be able to leave the king’s house to set up his own kingdom where he could be king.

But, before he could get enough of the money he needed, the king approached him & asked him, “Why have you been stealing from me every night since you were a child? Have I not given you everything you need? Why do you walk in rebellion against me?”

The child’s lip quivered. His legs began to shake. The King, who had known for years about Michael’s rebellion had finally approached him. Michael knew the penalty for his crime—banishment, exile from the kingdom forever. Those were the rules of the king.

Knowing that he couldn’t save him, Michael threw himself at the feet of his king crying out, “I have broken your laws. I tried to steal from your kingdom so I could build my own. I deserve death for my treason but oh righteous king, have mercy!”

The King bent down and put his hand upon the teenager, picked him up, and wrapped his arms around him saying, “You are forgiven.”

Punchline: We are just like Michael. God is our King and we are his servants. By disobeying God’s commands, we have sinned against God. We have broken God’s Law. BUT the moral of the story is not what we have done but what God has done. God has demonstrated the greatest love.

“God is Love.” Let’s think about that statement for a moment. It is found 1 John 4:8, a segment of the scripture we will be studying today. It is given as the reason to why we must love others if we want to state we love God. Last week we learned that the greatest commandment is to love God but that the second is to love our neighbors as ourselves, it’s in our job description. These two commands are linked in that that those who keep the commandment of loving God have been born of God, and thus love as God has loved. 

In God’s grip,

Pastor Chuck Church

Read 1 John 4:7-21

Exploring Questions

  • Why do you think the elder John delivers such a climatic statement such as, “everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God”? Does this mean that only those who know God can love? Why or why not?
  • How does verse 9 relate to the story above about the boy named Michael? How is it different?
  • In verse 12, how is our vision on of God related to our ability to love one another?
  • How is does our understanding of the Triune God (vv.13-16) relate to the full experience of loving one another? 
  • What do you believe the elder means by “there is no fear in love”?
  • Returning to the command to love, the elder concludes this segment of scripture by pointing to a contradiction, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.” How are they a liar? What are they lying about?
  • What is the true nature of love according to 1 John 4:7-21?

Diving Deeper:

  • Think to some of the godliest people you have known in life. How did they demonstrate their love for God and others?
  • How have you seen God as a result of loving others?
  • The abiding presence of the Holy Spirit confirms the community’s knowledge of the love of God and how they have chosen to demonstrate that love of God. How have you witnessed the Holy Spirit in the faith communities? In yours?

Applying Questions:

  • Where is God challenging you right now to demonstrate you love for your neighbors?
  • How can your church be a better visible representation of God for your neighborhood?