Let Love Live Week 7 – God’s Love
1 John 4:7-21
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: in this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Friends, we hit the centre of what John is wanting to impress upon his people in his little letter. This may be the day when you really ‘get’ John and his great concern; his great message for you and this church community in God’s world.
In this anti-messiah world, with this anti-messiah heart we all possess, and under the ongoing assaults of the Anti-Messiah himself, this is our way:
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
But maybe we don’t quite hear this as John speaks it. Maybe we don’t get the full depth of what he is saying here. Maybe we even hear this as just more bad news, more pressure, more expectation, more rules that we know we just cannot keep perfectly?
See, we might hear this word as: Well, God has loved us. He has set us an example of how to love people in the person and work of Jesus, and our job now is to copy him. That is true, but John means more …
12 No one has ever seen God.
So, no human being has ever seen God. John says that in this anti-messiah world, people do not acknowledge Jesus as he really is because they do not ‘know the Father’.
Remember, over in that magnificent beginning to his gospel, John puts it this way;
18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and[ is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:18)
So, when you put this together, John is saying something like this:
- Human beings have never seen God himself.
- But God has shown himself enough in this Jesus of Nazareth, Messiah in human flesh and blood. Acknowledging Jesus is acknowledging the Father’s for they are one.
- So, we can actually see enough of God – that he himself is love who loves the world, as we hear of him through John and the Apostle’s/Biblical witness and simply believe him.
if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
- The world can only know who God is and receive his perfect love as they actually see real people loving real people.
So John is saying: This great perfect loving God makes his great perfect love complete in imperfect people who trust in him, acknowledge him and love in his name.
Can you see that Jesus is not merely an example to copy but a Saviour who loves you so you live in that love as you simply love.
Here comes the heart of John’s message to us:
Our loving is God’s revealing.
Our God shows himself in this hidden way – in our loving.
The world has no chance of ‘seeing’, ‘knowing’, ‘acknowledging’ the love of the Father in Jesus of Nazareth except that is sees his love at work through us.
His loving is done through us; it reveals him to people.
Can you see why John is fixated on this whole ‘love’ thing? Why he continually uses such stark contrast and big words saying things like
20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.
15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. (3:15)
Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. (3:10b)
We should love one another. (3:11b)
Why love? Why choose to love when others may not? Why love when the feelings are not there, the ‘love’ is not shared, the instinct to inflict revenge s stronger, the temptation to dismiss, blame, escape, not speak or do or pray is easier? Because the world’s future depends on it. They have to see it to know him.
Sounds so daunting! We now, this ‘loving’ business is hard work! As John beautifully put it last week, ‘Our hearts condemn us’ in all our lack of love.
Funny how we are scared of the very thing that frees us, according to John.
But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.
We fear God’s punishment of the pay back of people for our lack of love and so we find it hard to love in case these things come our way.
But John is wanting us to lose this fear of God’s punishment so we can carry on loving. And we can…..
Remember those great words alluding to the great words of Elisha last week?
“… the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (3:20).
There is always more love from the Father of perfect love.
And more good news for the struggling lovers!
- This love is not a mere feeling we have to manufacture. It is an attitude, and action and will in whatever emotion. So, we truly can do what Jesus says in his sermon on the mount. We can actually ‘love’ our enemies because this self-giving, self-sacrificing love of God at work in us is not dependent on or tied to mere emotions. We love in whatever we feel by doing, speaking acting whatever the emotions, and,
- This perfect love of Jesus is his, nor ours. We do not have to conjure up this love by will-power or strict spiritual discipline or climbing the holy mountain or hear the sound on one hand clapping or eating, praying and loving or seeing the holy shrine or however else we think we will find moral or psychological or emotional power. This love is his his love; his human love; his prefect, full spiritual godly love, and it is gifted given, active, free and wild within you. This love is the Spirit’s love already given to you.
John says it like this:
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: he has given us of his Spirit.
Friend, you are not only here to copy Jesus in your loving, but be his love in your living.
You can be completely dependent on him, says John
15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. (4:15)
How? How do we find this love for the day? How do we get what we need to overcome that conflict, make for peace in it when it is easier to give up? From where does this love inside us come and how do we find the way to give, serve, forgive, build up when everything in this anti-messiah heart, this anti-messiah world, and the Anti-messiah himself is screaming at us to dismiss, dislike, protect self, avoid the cost?
… we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him (4:21-22)
Ask. Ask for this perfect love that drives out all my fears for today and make the way clear for love today.
Can you see today, friend, that this Christian life is no mere, ‘hobby religion? It is love down to your botts and back up and it goes out and come back in. John world of love is the way the world sees God’s love in you.
We live in this perfect love gifted to us, because God is love and he has loved us. We respond by giving, serving, speaking ding love in all emotions or lack of.
He provides the love.
We enact it as we ask him for it everyday and the world see him, can maybe acknowledge him, can maybe believe that God is actually good because I saw it in them;
in that bloke on the job,
that woman at work,
that family at the hospital,
that child at school,
that young person in my church,
that senior at the club.
Lose the fear. Seek the love. Let love live. They need it.
Even if our conscience makes us fainthearted and presents God as angry, still “God is greater than our heart.” Conscience is one drop; the reconciled God is a sea of comfort. The fear of conscience, or despair, must be overcome, even though this is difficult. It is a great and exceedingly sweet promise that if our heart blames us, “God is greater than our heart” and “knows everything.”
 Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 30: The Catholic Epistles. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 30, p. 280). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.