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  • Writer's pictureKendall Ellis

Testify to Love

This is a sermon preview for the fourth sermon in our series on 1 John. To view livestreams, click here.

“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” - 1 John 4:7-21 (NIV)

In 1997, I was in my YPK (Youth Pastor’s Kid) Era, jamming to folks like DC Talk, Audio Adrenaline, and Jars of Clay in my car seat, chocolate milk in hand. The chorus of one Avalon song still randomly pops into my head today:

For as long as I shall live, I will testify to love

I'll be a witness in the silences when words are not enough

With every breath I take, I will give thanks to God above

For as long as I shall live, I will testify to love.

I can imagine the writer of 1 John jamming with me to this song. He’s really into love. Within one short letter, the author mentions love 28 times! In chapter 3, Christian love is not limited to merely words. Christian love is an action. Jesus laid down his life for us, and that love requires us to lay down our lives for others, too.

Love in action is a beautiful mantra. But it also rattles us. Have you ever stopped to consider the details of this sacrificial love? 

Who is deserving of my life? (Surely it’s not the punk next door.)

When is sacrificial love really necessary? (Surely I’m allowed to choose myself sometimes.)

Why does it matter if Christians love in action anyways? (Surely there’s other actions besides love that have more impact on important world events.)

These questions are the heart of 1 John 4. And the answers may surprise us! The rest of the world might be able to get away with only loving when it’s convenient, but there’s no microwave meals for the Christian.

This author reminds us that Christian love comes from God and is to be taken seriously. 

If we really believe that God is love…

If we really believe that God lives in us…

If we really believe that God’s love is complete…

Then YES! The punk next door doesn’t have to do anything to earn your sacrificial love. 

Then YES! Sacrificial love is necessary because it is evidence that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is alive in your life.

Then YES! Christian love matters because it is our first and foremost witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

For as long as I shall live, I will testify to love

Biblical scholars say that 1 John was likely written by a disciple of the author of the Gospel of John. Both books have similar themes and, if we’re honest, both books can feel repetitive and wordy at times. When 1 John suggests that love is our testimony of God’s salvation in the world, I was reminded of the Parable of the Vine in John 15. Jesus tells his disciples that He is the vine, they are the branches, and the Father is the Gardener. The Gardener prunes any branches that do not bear fruit. But the branches that remain in the vine bear much fruit.

Jesus ends the parable by saying, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love…You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.”

Much like Queen Esther, God has chosen us for such a time as this. We don’t have to earn God’s love. God’s love is a gift. But it’s not the kind of gift that we only pull out of the cabinet to look at and appreciate once in a while. Love is a gift that multiplies. Love grows from the Father, to the Son, to us, and then to our neighbors. Love is the testimony we’ve been sent out to give to a fearful world.

Reflection Questions

  1. How did you first recognize God’s love in your life? How has God loved you recently?

  2. What reservations do you have about using love as a testimony to share your faith with others? What do you think 1 John might say about these reservations?

  3. How can you abide in God’s love this week? How will that help you share your faith with one person this week?


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