LOOKING TO PERFECT LOVE
January 8, 2014
Today’s reading: 1 John 4:11-18
Jesus restored us to our relationship with the Father. At the core of our Christian faith is this relationship. It is a relationship of love–God’s love for us and our love for God, with God acting first and unilaterally. “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.” (1 Jn 4:16a). How can we be assured that this mutual love is in place? Well, God’s love is already proven, and so it is up to us to respond in love. How can we be assured that we are with God and He is with us?
It is when we love. “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” (1 Jn 4:16b). The one basic identifying characteristic of God is that He is love. God created us out of love. God redeemed us out of love. God will bring us to heaven because of love. If we are children of God, if we are made in the image and likeness of God, if we are to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, then we must love. If and when we do, then God remains in us and we in Him.
This love is manifested in three basic ways.
One, it is accepting that Jesus is our Savior. “Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God.” (1 Jn 4:14-15). God so loved the world that He sent His own Son Jesus to suffer and die for us. God loved us first. We love Him in return. We recognize His love through the supreme sacrifice on the cross. So we accept Jesus as Savior.
Two, it is looking to the Spirit. “This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit.” (1 Jn 4:13). Jesus won for us our salvation. But we need to work at that salvation in order to finally make it to heaven. It is the Holy Spirit that Jesus sends who enables and empowers us. God the Son who loved us so much that he gave his very life for us is he who promised to be with us until the end of the age, doing so with his Spirit. So we live a life in the Holy Spirit.
Three, it is loving one another. “Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.” (1 Jn 4:12b). It is easy and difficult to love God. It is easy because God is lovable. It is hard because we do not see Him, nor interact with Him in the way we do with friends and loved ones. “No one has ever seen God.” (1 Jn 4:12a). But the Trinity is love, and God has already manifested His love for the world in Jesus and the Spirit. Now the manifestation of God’s love in us is our love for one another. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.” (1 Jn 4:11).
Such Christian love for others is very difficult, because people are not always so lovable. But if God’s love is to remain in us, then we must love one another. It is precisely when we strive to love, despite the difficulty, that our love grows, according to the very love of God. “In this is love brought to perfection among us” (1 Jn 4:17a). It is precisely when we love one another that we see the love of God–Father, Son, Spirit–truly at work in us.
When such Trinitarian love is in us, then we know that we are growing to be like God, and we know that we will make it to heaven. As such, “we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world.” (1 Jn 4:17b).
Love for others is a great challenge. We could be rejected. We could be hurt. We could be betrayed. But it is right for us to love, because God has loved us. And if the untoward incidents happen, then those would be just more occasions by which we grow in unilateral, unconditional, self-sacrificial love, which is the very love of God for us. Thus we can more and more experience the perfection of our imperfect human love. So we must never be afraid to love. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.” (1 Jn 4:18).
Let us strive to be perfect in love.
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God bless you all.
“For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.” (Phil 1:21)