In the 1 John, there is clear message actually a few clear messages.
God is love.
Those that love God also love their fellow humans and if they don’t love others, then they don’t love God.
Another message is clear is that we are called to discern well to see if a spirit is from God or somewhere or some one else.
Listen to 1 John 4:1:
Dear friends, don’t believe every spirit. Test the spirits to see if they are from God because many false prophets have gone into the world.1
Don’t believe every sprit. Test the spirits and see if they are from God.
Point one to make here: not every spirit that presents itself is from God. I know this is basic, but follow this logic. No matter if you are apple person, an orange person, or even a banana person, if you are a Jesus person you must test the spirits.
What I have seen during this eruption of 2020 is simply this: if someone on your team who shares your bias and your views and votes the way you do, then you are going to go along with them, come hell or high water. I am writing today, February 25, 2021 and I am on day 4 of having Covid. I have had a lot of time to sit and reflect on the events and things that happen around me and in me the past few days. And I was thinking today of the relationships that have been sacrificed due to the fact that folks thought I was playing and rooting for the wrong team. I will continue to root for the Kingdom of God, the rest of is just apples and oranges.
I have never experienced a time in the Chruch - I have been a part of the Chruch for 30 years - have I seen folks turn and divide on each other over their secondary, and even tertiary allegiances. This is not discerning the spirits and testing what is of God. This instead is chasing some far less sophisticated: it is animal instincts.
It is fight or flight response to things. This is us. This is humanity.
1 John 4, continues with some great stuff - I encourage you to read it all - but I want to go down to verse 18:
18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love because God first loved us. 20 Those who say, “I love God” and hate their brothers or sisters are liars. After all, those who don’t love their brothers or sisters whom they have seen can hardly love God whom they have not seen! 21 This commandment we have from him: Those who claim to love God ought to love their brother and sister also.2
There is no fear in love - God’s perfect love drives out fear.
One of the first steps in discerning and testing the spirits during these days is the fear test: if your logic begins with fear, and not love - you are not hearing from God. So much of the rhetoric around Covid, racial injustices, the election and the economy start with fear. They want to start with: “Be scared - don’t you know what will happen if _________.” You see once you start down the path of fear, it does not lead around to God eventually. Yet the path of love leads to God and casts out all fear.
Fear has to do with punishment - the one that fears has not been made perfect in love. If you are walking around in fear as follower of Jesus, and trying to get out by chasing down the fear to expel it in your own strength - that is a fool’s errand. God’s love is the one and only thing that can cast out the fear.
And finally this love from God to us is shown to have taken a hold of us if we love others well. When we see and understand we are loved by God something amazing opens up in us: When realize that we don’t have to walk in fear it allows us to truly love others. If what has shown up in you for most in 2020’s eruption is not love for others, but instead hate. Well, you are are missing the point. You have gotten the top button wrong on the shirt and no matter what you do it will all be out of sorts till you get that first button where it needs to go.
I can not tell you how much hate I have seen, heard, and experienced - both first and secondhand - from people that claim to follow Jesus and at the same time spew hate. I told you I was going to start meddling, but if the shoe fits, wear it.
In that fallout, there will be no room for those that follow Jesus to be known by our hate of others that we see as on other and lesser teams. Team love, not team fear is where we are called to be during the this time and season.
1 Common English Bible. (2011). (1 Jn 4:1). Nashville, TN: Common English Bible.
2 Common English Bible. (2011). (1 Jn 4:18–21). Nashville, TN: Common English Bible.