Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Different Angle on Valentine’s Day

1 John 4:7 "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God, and [because] everyone who loves has born of God and knows God.  8 He who does not love has not come to know God, because God is love.  9 In this way God’s love is made evident in our midst, in that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world in order 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 as the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins.  11 Beloved, if [in fact] God loved us like this, [then] we also are obligated to love one another.  12 No one has ever seen God.  [But] if we love one another, God lives in us and His love has accomplished its goal in us.” (author's translation)

“Love is of God,” (4:7).  With these four short words, the apostle John makes a very powerful and quite provocative statement both about love and about God.

For the countless people who are looking for love in all the wrong places (and in all the wrong forms), John says simply that “love is of God.”  He is its Source.

But then, take note that John also informs us that “God is love,” (4:8).  In other words, whatever He is, it is.  However, so that we do not misunderstand, the point is not that love defines God, but that He defines it.  Simply put, knowing God is the way to know [real, lasting] love because He is love.

Next, the apostle indicates that God’s love (the fact that He loves and, especially the way He loves) is both revelatory and redemptive.  God’s love is revelatory in that, when He loves, He does not merely say it, He shows it.  It is a love that He ‘makes evident’ to the objects of His love (4:9; John 3:14 - 17) in and through the cross – the atoning death of His Son.

But, then, take note that the reason for the revelation of God’s love is redemption.  God’s love is redemptive, in that, when He loves He gives so as to address the huge issue of sin in all of our lives (4:10).  But also, when God loves His love is redemptive, in that, in dealing with our sin (and sins), we are changed and our relationship to Him is changed (we come to be His children – ‘born of Him’ – 4:7).  In loving us redemptively, we are no longer [spiritually] dead, but are given [eternal] life through Jesus Christ (4:9; Ephesians 2:1, 4 - 5).  In loving us redemptively, God makes us His beloved children even though we were formerly His enemies (4:7; Romans 5:6 – 11).

So what?  ‘Well, God, I am really glad you are that way . . . All of that is really great . . . Time to move on to the next thing . . . Right?’

Wrong!  If we claim to be God’s children – loved by God – begotten by His love – able to relate to Him because of that love – then, what?  Then, we are obligated (the idea is that of being ‘indebted’) to love not just Him, but every other child of God.  And, in responding to His love for us in this way, we make Him known.  The Unseen One is made visible through us (4:12).  His love accomplishes the goal He had in mind for it from the very beginning (4:12).  Amazing!

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