Legend says that in his later years, believers would bring their questions and disagreements to John the Elder and he would respond with the words, “Little children, love one another.” As I have been preparing Sunday school lessons on the book of 1 John, I have gotten the feeling that there is an underlying tone of rebuke there. It is almost as if we as parents were dealing with one of our children who has made a mistake and we say, “I really expected more of you.”
Commentators suggest that the writer of 1 John is dealing with church members who have broken fellowship by following heretical teachings about the humanity of Christ. They have turned their back on sound doctrine and are creating dissension. Even so, the writer continues to remind them of the fellowship that is available to them in Christ and Christ’s command to “love one another.”
The writer of 1 John has something to say to the church today. Rarely do our doctrinal differences rise to the level of open dissension, but the way that we practice our faith often does. Specifically, the disruption is seen in our demand that others do things the way that we do. Our differences are not usually about what we believe, but what we do.
The author of 1 John encourages us to follow the way of love. If we truly do so, we will discover that love is not an airy, ethereal practice but one that requires commitment, courage, and forbearance. These are often lacking within the Body of Christ. Love is hard work.
I think the writer of 1 John would say, “You know what you ought to do, now do it!”