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. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another [1 John 4:10-11]
The inevitable outcome of experiencing the love of God in Jesus is that we in turn live out this love with one another. The word “ought” is the verses above is not pointing us simply to an obligation to love. It is saying this love of Jesus we have received now compels us inside to love others.
Crucially this means that our love now must follow the template of God’s love for us because we who are in Jesus now know what love truly is! I have previously spoken of my love for stencils which I use to help my daughter Abigail to learn how to draw better. She is learning to draw effortless from them! John is saying, you cannot experience the love of Jesus and not be moved to extend the same to others.
How should those who are persuade by Jesus love others? John says look at the love of God for you displayed through the death of Jesus on the cross for your sins. What do you see? You see God reaching out to you who doesn’t deserve it. Those who have experienced the love of God love those who don’t deserve it! Everyone has a person in their life who is difficult to love because of his or her attitude. As soon as I have mentioned it, the face has just flashed in your mind. Loving as God does means that we must start there.
When we look at the love of God, we see God loving us in a practical and costly way, not with empty talk. Jesus has died physically for our sins. We shouldn’t just say, “Brother, I am praying for your financial situation to improve, they change their diet for a week to spare cash so that they can give some money to help that brother in need”. When we are loving as God has loved us, rather than spending our spare time on social media or just watching Netflix we deliberately use some of our time to visit an elderly couple that can do with our fellowship.
When we think about all the different ways in which the love of God challenges our feel love, we may be tempted to say it is all impossible. But that misses the point of what John is saying to us: we must love because we are greatly loved and are being loved by God. The good news of these verses is not only that God has loved us and given us a new capacity to love, but also that we love out through Jesus. Jesus has plugged each follower of Jesus to the very loving life of God. This means we grow to love by surrendering our lives to Jesus.
We are already in loving union with God, but now we grow in our love for each other by surrendering more to Jesus! That is how we live through Him. And the key to surrendering more to Jesus is to keep our focus on the love that God displayed for us on the cross. Keep your focus on God’s love by studying the Cross, sitting under cross centred preaching, praying the cross and take part in the Lord's Supper. These things together work to persuade us to love as God loves us in Jesus.
Love Series :
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2017