4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.1 John 4:4-6 ESV
We can’t separate God and love. God is love. John is writing to the churches in the first of three letters. The people have absolutely made a mess of the church. They wanted the church run the way they wanted it. We still do that today! But the church should be run the way God wants it run, shouldn’t it?
The bottom line here is that God is love, so the church (and the people in it) should reflect God’s love. If we don’t love we can’t be of God.
John starts verse 4 referring to “dear children”. Who is he talking to? Children don’t know better, and Christianity is still young. If you abide in God, you are a child of God. God is bigger than anything you will face. God can even overcome that person that you have a hard time loving. You make the choice to love and God will make it happen.
Those who talk hate and judgment, no matter what they are posing as, are of the world. If you’re a child of God, you’ve overcome them. They are the worst kind of lost and we should feel broken hearted for them. They are convinced they’re found, but they don’t really know God if they harbor hate in their hearts. But, we should love them as hard as that may be because that’s who we are as children of God.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.1 John 4:7-10 ESV
What do we speak of when we say “God’s love”? There are four kinds of love:
- Eros – romantic love
- Storge – family love
- Philia – brotherly love
- Agape – God’s divine love (what I’ve always referred to as unconditional love)
John is referring to agape love. Since this is God’s love, it comes into our lives when we draw closer to God. We give love without expecting anything in return.
We are not commanded to love in order for God to love us. There is nothing that we can do to earn God’s love. He gives it to us freely.
When we are born of God, we there is a special kind of love that is imparted into our lives. We are not just “forgiven”, we are born anew by God’s Spirit.
When we interact with God daily, we get to know him better. We begin to experience God and it will show in our love to others.
Knowing Scripture and “church” isn’t the same as loving God. Too many have fooled themselves into thinking they love God. Unfortunately, their “god” is one of their own making. Their “god” hates the same things they hate and likes the same things they like.
When we truly have experienced God’s love, it will show in the way we live our lives. It’s not just talked about, it shows by our actions.
On our own we are rebels fully deserving of God’s wrath and judgment. But God sent his own son to pay the price for us. He suffered death, punishment we deserved by the sins we’ve committed.
God shows his love continually in wanting us to live through him. Do we?
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.1 John 4:11-12 ESV
What do we do with this?
By showing our love to others, we open the door for them to know God. We show them love in the way we treat others. When they look at us in wonder, thinking, “why do they treat people like this? (love)” That is when the door is opened to share about God and our faith.
Those who are loved, let us love. Period
This post is representative of our pastor’s sermon. When I look around at the people in our church and think of the message of this sermon I see exactly what he is talking about. It’s not the church program, but the people who have accepted God and share his love. I see this love through cards sent, prayers prayed, meals shared, encouragement through “good job”, a pat on the back, or a smile. I’ve never felt more loved and I hope that I can share that with many people in the time I have left on this earth!