By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16)
There is a kind of love that indicates that we are Christians. It is a love that is the opposite of the world’s hate. Hate is a taker. Hate is a murderer. Hates takes a life. Hate wants the worst for the other person. Hate wishes the other person wasn’t here. Hate is darkness. Hate is evil.
But love…love doesn’t take; it gives. Love doesn’t do the worst for the other; it wants the best for them. Love will sacrifice its own good for the joy of the other. This kind of love is preeminently displayed in what Jesus did on the cross. O what love that is! Calvary love. God bleeding for us. God suffering for us. God dying for us. He laid down his life for us. He died for our sin and died for our shame and died for our eternal salvation. Don’t talk about sentimental love that only loves in words and feelings. Go to the cross and see what real love is. Bloody. Selfless. Exhausting. Total.
Then John adds, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16)
The mark of a true Christian is someone who has embraced, by faith, love’s ultimate expression in Christ’s death for us. By God’s design, this love in us becomes God’s love through us. That’s just the way he’s made it. Is it so hard to believe God would engineer it that way? The God who made water turn into ice and larvae turn into butterflies and winter turn into spring, can’t he engineer his love to turn haters into lovers? Turn takers into givers? Murderers into martyrs? God’s love in us changes us fundamentally. The Spirit does this through regeneration. His love will produce that same kind of self-giving love as a character quality of the genuine Christian.