By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. – 1 John 2:5-6 ESV
A number of years ago there was a fad that passed through the ranks of evangelical Christians. It was based on a book called In His Steps by Charles Sheldon. The subtitle for the book was “What Would Jesus Do?” That simple phrase became the acronym WWJD and was placed on wristbands and other paraphernalia to serve as a reminder for Christians to always consider what would Jesus do in a given situation. In other words, they were to consider living their lives with Him as their model. The section of First John we are currently in – 1 John 2:3-11 – carries a very similar sentiment. Except that John would simply say, Walk Like Jesus Walked. And there would be no question n John’s mind as to what that would look like for each and every believer. For John, one of the key characteristics or proofs of a saving faith was love for you fellow believers. But John did not have in mind some kind of Hallmark card, syrupy, sentimental kind of love. He was referring to the lay-it-all-on-the-line kind of love that Jesus expressed through His life and, ultimately, His death. John had personally heard Jesus say, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 ESV). And this was not some isolated statement. Jesus had made sure His disciples knew the importance of it by repeating it regularly. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:12-14 ESV). Here Jesus gives the clear definition behind what He means when He says, “love one another.” We are to love as He loved us. How did He love us? By sacrificing His life on our behalf. The kind of love Jesus was calling His disciples to exhibit toward one another was to be selfless and sacrificial. Later on in his letter, John writes, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10 ESV). God showed His love for us by sacrificing His Son. Jesus showed His love for us by giving His life.
John pulls no punches when he tells his readers, “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness” (1 John 2:9 ESV). And he follows that up with, “whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:11 ESV). But an evidence or proof that we are abiding in Christ and His light is shining in and through our life will be a Christ-like love for others. Jesus said that this kind of love would be proof to the world that we are His disciples. It is meant to be a kind of love that shocks and surprises. In John’s day, it showed up in the form of converted Jews and Gentiles worshiping Christ together. That was shocking to the lost community around them. It was a love that showed up in believing slaves and their Christian master worshiping as brothers in the same fellowship – with no change in their slave-master relationship. Scandalous. Unbelievable. Shocking. It was love expressed through willing sacrifice as believers met the needs of other believers so that no one went without. It was the love of Christ being lived out in daily life. Christians walking like Jesus walked. Doing what Jesus had done. Loving like Jesus loved.
In the same way that an absence of light produces darkness, an absence of love in our lives produces hate. When we fail to love as Jesus loved, it is as if we hate the other individual. To choose not to express love to another brother or sister in Christ is to hate them. God has loved us. He expressed that love through the gift of His own Son’s life. Jesus has loved us by laying down His life on our behalf. And we are called to love as we have been loved. Sacrificially and selflessly. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:11-12 ESV). We are to be conduits of God’s love. When we love one another, the love of God is perfected in and through us. It is completed, come full circle. We have been loved by God and we are expressing that love to others. Walking like Jesus walked. Loving like Jesus loved. Living in the light of God’s love and sharing that love with others.