Clueless unsaved John didn’t understand what real love meant. He was powerless.

I love watching “The Great British Bakeoff”. Twelve amateur bakers compete against each other to win the title of Greatest British Baker. Each round displays the bakers’ skills as they create roulades, fondant fancies, pavlovas, etc. I watch in wonder. Usually, I don’t understand the vocabulary or the method of what they are doing but I love their skill. Even if I obtained a great copy of their recipes, I could not master them. I am simply clueless (sadly, my family will agree) as a baker. Appreciating a skill set and being able to do it are two different things.


I John 3:11-18 was written by someone who previously was no expert at love. Clueless unsaved John didn’t understand what real love meant. He was powerless. Ray Stedman observes about John: “This is not his nature at all. He and his brother James earned from Jesus the title, “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17), because they were constantly wanting to blast back at those who opposed them. It was John and James who came to the Lord when a village refused to have them come in and said, “Shall we not call fire down from heaven upon them?” Luke 9:54). It was John and James who were constantly quarreling with the other disciples. The temperament of this man, John, was not one of naturally showing love.” John’s life was upended by the resurrected Christ. Overnight, he was given the power to love.


It is important to note the recipients of this epistle were having a problem with love. John’s readers were going through a time of church schism. Tempers were flaring and fists may very well have been flying.  In the midst of this, John describes the distinguishing mark of the genuine believers versus the false teachers that were invading the flock: love. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 


Before Christ, John only knew what Stedman describes as “me love”, a love of himself. “The love we show as non-Christians is really a love of ourselves. We love our children because they are extensions of us. Our life is related to our father or mother so we love them. We love our relatives (presumably) because they are ours. Of course, we love our dog, our cat, our horse. We love the friends who please us, we love those who help us. Love is always directed to those who do something to, or for, or receive from us. Therefore, what we really love is the projection of ourselves in others. Thus, human love is self-centered.”


John challenges us to display the kind of love that is often uncomfortable, humbling, and puts obedience to Christ above any type of pride. It shows the stark contrast between believers and people who are spiritually dead. If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. (1 John 3:14 NLT) No genuine Christ follower is allowed to be clueless and powerless in displaying sacrificial love.


John poses the question: are you genuinely saved? He doesn’t ask if you are a nice, kind, or a moral person. He challenges us to lay it all on the line: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”  Only through relationship with Christ can we win the championship of loving other brothers and sisters in Christ such that we “lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Don’t be clueless. John learned to be an expert lover and we can do the same.

Click to read the astonishing love testimony of Jacob Deshazer