“We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”
LOVE. Love is of God, comes from God. It is only something He alone can put in our hearts. From His heart to our heart. It is more than the overwhelming love when we see kittens and puppies. It is even more than falling in love with someone. This kind of love has to do with eternity. It stretches our heart clear to heaven. All other loves are just icing on the cake, the glitter that reflects God’s very character.
Adam Clarke interprets this loving one’s brother specifically as concerning Christian Jews and their fellow Jews. The Christian coverts looked at Saul before he became Paul, dragging men and women from their homes to be jailed or stoned to death. This is the atmosphere and time in which John lived as he also was persecuted, and those he loved were persecuted. He himself was not immediately put to death but was sent to an isolated island. (He was the one who was in charge of Jesus’ mother Mary. It was up to her uncle Joseph of Arimathea then to help her escape persecution by taking her away, my research shows, to Cornwall, England.)
Thus, the love John urges his fellow believers was not a gooey-eyed or even familial love, but loving one’s enemies. That is how Jesus loved. He even said on the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Currently, our nation is polarized. Do we have enemies in and outside of our borders? Yes. It is fueled by hate which is the opposite of love. It is a form of Christian persecution which international observers say is greater than ever. It is not that we have to accept it and let hatred overtake us, our children, our nation. Yet, we can love the person as we hate what they do, even have sorrow for what they feel and pray for them.