Man, John just pulls no punches, does he? Listen to some of this: “Whoever does not love abides in death.” “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” Tough stuff, but I read it very appreciatively.
Sometimes we are too polite in the Family of God. We make sure that no one gets their feelings hurt and we find it so difficult to call someone out even when their very soul is at stake. I know I have often suffered from this in the past and have worked diligently to overcome it. Sometimes we need our cages rattled by someone who truly loves us, as John is loving us, so that we don’t take an unrecoverable fall.
John is clear that the world will hate those who are in Christ. That makes it all the more imperative that there is love within the family to the extent that we’re willing and prepared to have someone mad at us by speaking the Truth. It must be peppered with grace, but it must be clear.
Interestingly, that very thing also serves as yet another one of John’s tests of being in the Family. Verse 14 says that, “we know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.” It is the compassion as well as the tough love that is willing to be uncomfortable for the sake of another. In this, we’re told that others (outside of Christ) will know that we are Christ-followers, hopefully even leading some of them to long for and pursue after this kind of love.