“All you need is Love” as the familiar Beatles Tune goes. What does it mean to love? To love our Neighbor. To love our country. To love our enemies. To Love God?
1st John chapter 4 is one of my most favorite and challenging passages
1 John 4:7-21
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So, we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
There are several things that this passage tells us about love.
Love is always the first. We often forget that: we put conditions or prerequisites on love. I’ll love you when, or I’ll love you if. These build barriers and prevents us from loving others and even prevents us from thinking we are loved. God loved us first. That is the gospel.
Why does loving first matter? With God, or with other people in your life
Our love of God is reflected in our love of others. Martin Luther in his small catechism, reminds us clearly of this in every explanation of the 10 Commandments. In every instance, we are reminded that we are to love God, SO THAT we can love and serve our neighbor. This is seen clearly as an example in the 4th commandment of honoring father and mother in which Luther explains “We should fear and love God so that we may not despise nor anger our parents and masters, but give them honor, serve, obey, and hold them in love and esteem.”
Would others know how much you loved God based on your actions?
Love is alive and active. To me, this passage encapsulates what the love of Jesus is. We celebrate a God who is not distant but alive and incarnate in the world around us. Love is not an object we can possess; it is an action that first comes from God and is then given to us so that it can be shared. Love is a verb that is experienced. As we are loved, we change, and as we love others, they are changed. For most people, the only way for them to know the love of God in Christ Jesus is through your actions.
A line from a St Francis prayer of peace states, “For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.” Do you find this to be true? Does this passage express this sentiment?
Posts from various People reflecting on How Christ intersects with daily Life.