Read 1 John 2
Echoing Jesus’ words and directives to love, John writes here encouraging his readers to show love to each other. He even goes so far as to say that those who don’t love their brother, a word which we could exchange readily with the word “neighbor”, do not have Christ in them. While this may not seem like a dramatic statement, but when we look at these words in combination with chapter one, John is essentially saying that those who don’t love others are the same as those walking in darkness, they have not encountered God.
Indeed, John writes in his Gospel that Jesus says the world will know we are His disciples by our love. This comes in sharp contrast to how many Christian denominations act today, defining themselves not by the love that they show to those around them, but by the high towers of theology they have built for themselves. Far too often, our “doctrines” and “theology” create an interpretation of Scripture that divides rather than bids of to love.
There is, however, a limit to the love that we are to show as well. While loving our neighbor is an essential part of the Christian life, loving the world is not. In fact, loving the world actually brings the same determination as those who do not love at all: they do not have Christ in them.
Loving the world means loving the things of this world more that God. John lists these things as bring primarily related to lust and pride, out of which I’m sure we could track most of the common sins of our lives.
Finally, John talks very intentionally about what it means to deny Jesus. For John this might have been a very personal thing for him to say, remembering Peter’s denial of Jesus and recording the reinstatement of Peter in his Gospel. He encourages his readers to remain faithful, reminding them that their calling and anointing comes from God alone and cannot be changed, even by their own actions. This is an important reminder of Christian identity, something that has implications to everyone who believes.