Friendship is a powerful force in our lives. When you think of your best friend you think of somebody who you have shared meaningful time with. The reality is the best portion of our lives will be seemingly insignificant moments smiling with people who matter to us.
Through friendship God invites us to know him and to make him known. John carries a wonderful revelation of friendship with God because he was arguably Jesus’ closest friend.
John was one of three disciples Jesus had chosen for his inner circle. Peter, James and John were with Jesus in ways the others were not. John sat beside Jesus at The Last Supper and from the cross Jesus looked upon his devastated mother entrusting her to John’s care.
John had been impacted by the love of Jesus and his letter makes this very clear. He explains that we are God’s children. He affirms how much Jesus loves us. Then he commissions us from this place of experiencing God’s love to love one another. Love is so central and so constant to his writing in this book that he references it forty times.
So what does it really mean to follow Jesus? We live in a day when following somebody is easy just requiring the click of a button. After you follow them you can then decide if you want to pay attention to what they have to say or ignore them all together. This is not the same idea as following Jesus.
Following Jesus means we experience Him then we express his ways to our world. We can all relate to being a total mess before we came to follow Jesus. The amazing thing is that God completely disagreed with our way of thinking and the lifestyle it created. Yet even though he disagreed with us the Bible makes it clear that his kindness leads us to repentance.
God demonstrated that we don’t have to agree with people to be kind to them. Jesus said we would be known by our love for others, not our strong beliefs. Unfortunately the common recognition for Christians tend to be how strongly they believe rather than how much they truly love. God is not trying to draw people into OUR BELIEFS. He's drawing them into HIS LOVE.
When we get more interested in winning arguments than we are in loving people we are no longer like Jesus.
God’s plan is not for us to introduce people to faith. His plan is for us to introduce people to love! One of the greatest problems of the modern day church is that we’ve worked hard to introduce people to what thy should do instead of who they should know
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear… NIV
Love truly will drive you to irrational behavior. A young lady can be sitting on a picnic blanket and have a wild reaction to a snake that slithers up beside her. The reaction will be completely different if this young lady is a mother with her baby on the blanket. Fear takes the backseat to love and this is the essence of God’s transforming power of love in our lives.
1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us. NIV
As we entered 2017 this year God revealed a clear direction for the year. Our New Year’s Revelation for 2017 is “Love Is Our Source.” It is easy to be kind when people give us kindness. It’s when they are unkind that we must give them what God has given us instead. The Law of reciprocal affection says, “I don't love you because I love you I love you because you love me therefore I actually love me.” Because God loved us we are then commissioned to love others from his source of love.
1 John 4:20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. NIV
By the time 1 John was written, there were second and third generation Christians. Some of these believers had grown half-hearted in their commitment to Jesus. A primary focus of John’s letter is to show how people can truly know if they are Christians in communion with God through Jesus.
1 John 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. NIV
John met Jesus, received Jesus’ love, and spent the rest of his life walking with Jesus. John’s relationship with Jesus utterly, completely, and eternally transformed him. This is the true Christian life. Are you abandoned and surrendered to the purposes of God as revealed in Christ. Jesus loves us and Jesus loves the church. His desire is to rescue humanity and draw every human being into his family. Together we become more loving, serving and giving leaving our world a better place!
GP4RL: Read 1 John this week and reflect on how well you embrace and express God’s love to others.
DISCUSSION GUIDE FOR COMMUNITY GROUP LEADERS
OPEN BY READING 1 John 2:1-2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. NIV
1. Does Jesus’ advocacy encourage you to seek him when you sin? Why or why not?
2. How has knowing God changed your heart and life?
3. How have you and others noticed the difference?
1 John 2:3-5 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him. NIV
4. Why is it not possible for true Christians to live in constant disobedience to God?
1 John 2:6-11 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. NIV
5. Why do you think John emphasizes our love for other Christians as much as he does? How has your love for other Christians changed since you first placed your faith in Jesus? How does being involved in community with other believers (or not) affect your faith?
• Encourage everybody to be honest about their sins and mistakes reaching out to our Advocate in heaven.
• Pray that God would illuminate any area of darkness in our lives.
• Pray that God would gracefully develop deep and meaningful relationships in the group throughout this study.
John places a huge importance on love and Christian community. This week, spend some time with your group to connect outside of your weekly meeting—at someone’s home, a café, or a restaurant. Encourage your group to use these hangout times to share their personal stories of their relationship with God.