Imagine If, We Loved Like Jesus (“Shrunk Sermon” on 1st John 2:7-11)

Imagine if, Cain had walked a path of love. Imagine if Cain had loved Abel instead of hating him. Imagine how things would have been different, for Abel, for Cain, and for Adam and Eve.

Imagine if, the people of Noah’s day had walked a path of love. They were known for their violence and that violence led to the flood. Imagine if they had love for each other instead of hatred. Imagine how things would have turned out different.

Imagine if, Pharaoh had walked a path of love, loving the Hebrew people instead of making them slaves. Imagine how the exodus story may have turned out differently.

Imagine if, the inhabitants of the promised land had walked a path of love. They were in the habit of sacrificing their children among other atrocities. Imagine if they had more love for their children than their false gods.

Imagine if, the people of God in the Old Testament had walked the path of love, loving God and each other. They were called to be a light shining in darkness. Imagine if they had kept God’s commandments and had taken care of the poor, sought justice for the oppressed, and had refrained from following the practices of the former inhabitants, like worshipping other gods by sacrificing their children. Imagine how things would have have turned out differently in so many ways including the avoidance of the consequence of their behaviour, the fall of Jerusalem and the exile.

Imagine if, Herod had walked the path of love. Imagine if he had love instead of fear and hatred when he had the infants of Bethlehem killed in an attempt to delete Jesus. Imagine the difference that would have made.

Imagine if the religious leaders who sought to destroy Jesus, had walked in the path of love and loved him rather than hated him. Now imagine if Jesus had practiced hatred instead of love! Imagine if Jesus had lashed out in vengeance rather than reach out in love at the cross. Imagine the darkness.

In his letter, John speaks of love, light and darkness:

Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.

If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.

1 John 2:7-11 (NLT)

The commandment to love is old, in that it goes back farther than even the Ten Commandments. Let’s go back much further than the Ten Commandments and visit Cain:

“Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

Genesis 4:6-7 (NLT)

We think of sin as disobedience to God, and that is part of it. But if Cain had loved his brother, he would not have killed him, and he would not have had a disobedience problem. In fact if Adam and Eve had loved God, they would not have had a disobedience problem either. As Jesus tells us, the commandments are all summed up in love:

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT)

Jesus goes beyond calling us to love God, each other, and ourselves:

You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies!

Matthew 5:43-44 (NLT)

Jesus not only told us to love our enemies, he set the example! And so now John, in reminding us of this really old commandment, made new in Jesus, is inviting us to walk as Jesus walked:

Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

1 John 2:6 (NLT)

We began by considering how things would have been different if the people we meet in the Bible had walked in the way of love. Now let us imagine how things could be different now, if we all walk as Jesus walked, in the way of love. . . with friends, and within families . . . within churches . . . within communities . . . and across the world.

If we commit this day to walking as Jesus walked, in a path of love, is there anything we need to change about our day?

(The full sermon can be seen as part of this “online worship expression”)

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