If we get weary of hearing over and over about the need to love one another, we should remember that John wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who knows our hearts. We need to examine ourselves constantly because our default mode is to revert to selfishness, not to love. In our text, John again gets out his black and white paint and does not mix them into shades of gray. He wants to expose the errors of the heretics in the plainest of terms. So he contrasts the world with the church. His message is,
The mark of the world is hatred, but the mark of the church is love.
That is a nice, clean statement, but as you ponder it you have to ask, “Is that really true?” I’ve known some wonderful, loving unbelievers and I’ve also known some real scoundrels in the church (not in this church, of course!). We’ve all met people who claim to be Christians, but frankly, you’d rather snuggle with a porcupine than try to get close to them! So, how do we square what John says with what we actually experience?