God is Love

I couldn’t sleep tonight. I just really couldn’t stop my brain from going over this passage, John 4:7-21, and a few other things. Yesterday, I visited a friend’s church and was surprised to find that the text was John 3:19 – 4:6. It was a good message, and it made me think even more of this passage that was already weighing on me. (Amazing, how God works, isn’t it?) It’s probable that this is the text for next week too! I began to think, what would it look like if someone preached on this text. Having not looked at any sermons on these verses, this is what ran through my half-asleep, half-excited mind:

What if a pastor just stood up one day at the podium and said, “God is love,” then sat down? I mean, what is that? Who could do such a thing. That statement is just so familiar, we all must have heard it quite a few times. There can be so many misconceptions of it. We generally just accept the phrase and don’t think too much of it, but if a pastor were to just say that and sit down, questions would definitely come to mind because of the boldness of the statement. What does it mean? “God is love.”

Sometimes it helps to say it a few different ways. GOD is love. God IS love. God is LOVE! God is love? What is John really trying to say in 1 John 4:8? What is love? It seems like a pretty vague topic to me. Can an eternal, infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent, no-beginning God be summarized in a single term? If you think of it in today’s terms such as “he loved her” or “they made love,” is that what John is trying to say God is? It seems like I better define the terms fast, before I get into trouble. This is why context is important. All is explained in the next few verses. Is it more like, Jesus’s love, a sacrificial, selfless love? Definitely. The love of God was shown to us in Jesus. Now would probably be a good time to read verses 8 and 9: “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” Perfect. I love how John teaches by example. We’ve even got a hint at the message of salvation, living through Jesus, right there. Jesus’ example is true love. John draws out the example and makes sure that we’re not thinking of human love, “not that we loved God, but that he loved us,” and that he sent his Son to be a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Digging a little bit deeper, in the Greek for this passage, love is translated as agapē, meaning general affection, the “feeling of being content, or holding in high regard” as Wikipedia defines it. It goes on to describe this type of love as total commitment or self-sacrificial love. This is the kind of love in fairy-tales, where a knight sacrifices everything to save a princess. (It’s an interesting illustration when you think of it in terms of Jesus and the church.) This is the kind of love children know, and this is the kind of love we are called to.

Just previously, in verse 7, and in verses 11 and 21 ironically, John advises us to have this love for one another. In the King James Version, he says “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” Those that love like this are “born of God” and “know God.” Whoever loves like this knows God. And this advice or call doesn’t just mean loving those that love you or are kind to you. The word agapē is used in Matthew 5:44 where scripture says, “Love your enemies.” Again it is used in the two greatest commandments, which are, briefly said, to love God and love your neighbor.

I read somewhere that the ultimate in love is true knowledge, and it ties in well with this passage. They sort-of go hand in hand. So, if you want to know God, know love. Know agapē.

It amazes to me how bold John is being here. He captures the very essence of God in a few words, no where else do we see such a statement like this.

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Published in: on August 14, 2007 at 12:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Love


1 John 4:7-21

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

“God is love.” What a profound statement that is. Is it coincidence that what we desire most in this world (love) is equivalent to God? I don’t think anyone can deny that he or she desires to love or to be loved. It seems that everything we strive for in this world is to gain the love of others or to love more ourselves. It makes perfect sense that we would be created to desire God (love) because He fills our most basic need.

Published in: on August 9, 2007 at 7:23 am  Leave a Comment