Self-deception: How do we deceive ourselves about love?
If we say we love God but then hate our brother, we are lying.
We deceive ourselves by professing a love for God that isn’t real.
How do we do that?
By failing to live out the implications of our expressed love.
It’s possible to profess a love we don’t have.
We can love a god created in our image.
Application: We need to accept that our love for God automatically calls us to love others.
Repent from the pattern of “it’s all about me.”
Do I love myself more that I love God?
Is “my god” really just me? Is “my Jesus” really just me?
Do I really mean what I am singing?
Abstraction: Loving shadow rather than substance
Loving what you have never seen – the danger of abstraction
Where does this happen? Universal vs Local Church
Loving God changes every other relationship.
The Gospel radically changes all social relationships as they are brought under the authority of Christ.
Being loved demands that I love.
Can one deceive another without being aware of it? Why would a failure to love others require that we are lying about our love for God? How do you react to the idea that your professions of love could be a lie?
Can our worship become a deception? John says that we could be lying about our love for God. If that is the case and we are worshiping, could our worship be a lie? What does it mean to worship in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23)? Can someone claim to worship God but that worship is actually idolatry? What is the difference between idolatry and true worship?
What happens to a group when the individuals are largely focused on having their needs met? What percentage of people with a self-focus will it take before a church can no longer have an others-first culture? When does good self-care spiritually turn into selfishness? Does forgetting yourself demand neglect?
To what extend do you look at church as a place to convey love? Is that how you picked this church? If churches design programs to meet felt needs without cultivating reciprocation, are we enabling immaturity? Should we just meet needs and trust that eventually people will reciprocate? What does John say about a failure to reciprocate love regarding the condition of our heart spiritually?
When the word “church” is used in the New Testament, are the majority of the references to the local or universal church? What does it mean to love the church? Can you actually love the universal church? In what ways? With what tangible expressions can you love an idea?
How do you interpret people’s professed love when you don’t see any corresponding reality? Should you give them the benefit of the doubt? Or is giving the benefit of the doubt really just foolishness? Does John give his readers the benefit of the doubt in this letter? When you see a gap between people’s professions of love and their actual behavior, what is the best way to respond? Should you just lower your expectations (“love covers a multitude of sins”), or should you confront the problem and exercise tough love?
How was the Gospel originally preached / presented to you? Was it more, “accept Jesus because of what he can do for you”? Or was it more, “think this through before you decide, because once you go down this path it will change everything”? Why did Jesus try and talk people out of following him? Do we do that? Why or why not? Is it foolish to present the gospel in hard terms? Or should we present the gospel as winsomely as possible?
Are you ok with the idea that once you were saved you have a new spiritual family? What does this actually mean to you? Is it possible to live in this reality? Why do so many Christians leave local churches? Is it possible to preserve an understanding of spiritual brotherhood and sisterhood in light of a very mobile and fickle culture? Or is the idea of enduring spiritual relationships a cultural leftover from ages long gone?