B.C.P. Trinity 1 : 1 John 4:7-21
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
Dr Ross Campbell, 'How to Really Love Your Child' ;In order to love my children, I must remember that (1) They are children. (2) They tend to act like children. (3) Much of childish behaviour is unpleasant. (4) If I do my part as a parent and love them despite their childish behaviour, they will be able to mature and give up childish ways. (5) If I only love them when they please me (conditional love), and convey my love to them only during those times, they will not feel genuinely loved. This in turn will make them insecure, damage their self-image, and actually prevent them from moving on to better self-control and more mature behaviour. Therefore, their behaviour is my responsibility as much as theirs. (6) If I love them unconditionally, they will feel good about themselves and be comfortable with themselves. They will then be able to control their anxiety and, in turn, their behaviour, as they grow into adulthood.
Our understanding of love will be affected by own experience of it. We see that in this letter.
It is rather muddled, so let us unpack it chronologically.
God loves you and me. He loved us first - Read verse 19. We love him, because he first loved us.
He made the first move. Read verses 9f.9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. This shows us how God showed his love to us. By sending Jesus to be an atoning sacrifice (Propitiation) for our sins. To receive the just punishment for our sins so that we may live through him.
The concept of life here is of a life lived in a right relationship with God. Something that will transcend physical death.
The word used for love in the Greek is agape. A love that cares more for the one being loved than the one doping the loving. A sacrificial love shown for us by Jesus on the cross.
This is the God side of the loving. Now we examine our response to that love. Love can be unknown, rejected, or accepted by the one being loved. When we decide to trust the Lord Jesus with our lives and follow him God comes and lives in us by his Holy Spirit. Read verse 13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.We are joined to God and, as God is love, verse16, we have a source of divine love living in us.
So we have experienced the sacrificial, unconditional
love of God. We can feel accepted and not fearful. We live in a world
where people are fearful of being rejected, of not being loved. Some
of these will have eating disorders, spend hours at the gymn trying
to improve their bodies, others will undergo surgery to alter their
Shania Twain refers to this in "What a
Way To Wanna Be" ( from her album "Up" );
erase the rings around your eyes.
Cover what you can,
get a Coppertone tan, yeah.
What a way to wanna be!
Stabilize the mood you're in
- you're back on diet food again.
Bigger is the best,
but only in the chest yeah!
What a way to wanna be"
We do not have to earn or deserve the love of God, indeed the love of anyone, because if it is earned or deserved it is not love. As those who have been loved unconditionally we are to unconditionally love our fellow Christians. To put them before ourselves. To fulfil Jesus' summary of the law to love God totally, and to love our neighbour as ourselves.
John writes that it is a lie to claim that we love God and to hate our fellow Christian. The Greek word for hate is not as strong a word as our one, and refers to an lack of loving. So indifference would be included. So we are not to be indifferent or ignore fellow believers but actively love them!
Our words and deeds must dovetail together. Like the corner of a fine piece of furniture. The love we are to show is to be sacrificial and active. This is evidence that God lives in us. Something that Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians 13. Expand.
To conclude : God loves us; he has shown this by sending Jesus to die in our place on the cross; this brings us life and love; we are called to show that sacrificial love practically to our brothers and sisters in Christ; this is the evidence of a true Christian faith; words are not enough.