What is love? Love can be beautiful, it can be light, warm, selfless, humble contagious and Holy. But it can also be challenging.
We are challenged by our partner to make a detour after work to pick something up. We are challenged to forgive a friend. We are challenged to bite our tongues when we want to say something that shouldn’t be said. We are challenged to walk our dog when we really want to put our feet up.
But, when we do these things, when we make that detour, when we see our friend, when we walk our dog - we show love. And when our partner greets us with a smile, our friend gives us that “thank you” hug and when our dog is asleep on our lap - we are shown love.
Romans chapter 5, verse 8 says, “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners”.
God’s love is so special, so powerful, so overwhelming. The loves I just mentioned are earthly, conditional and mere by-products of God’s love.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe that these loves are not of value, that they aren’t good or important, because they are! They are wonderful, for anything as a mere by-product of God’s tends to be quite wonderful.
However, I just want to focus on God’s love and the power in recognising it, the power in living in it and the power in sharing it. I do this by focusing on 1 John chapter 4.
A sacrificial love
With God’s love, I feel what confronts us first and foremost is just how overwhelming it truly is. He sacrificed his son to free us, to show us a whole new level of love, before we even loved Him.
As Christians we have heard this story many, many times. In fact, most people have heard the story of God sending his son as a sacrifice for us.
But let’s take a moment to think about what we love the most in this world. It may be our partner, parents, siblings, something tangible like food or intangible like freedom.
Ask ourselves, could we sacrifice that?
Asking ourselves this question reveals how this act of God’s love is so unfathomable. As Everlyn Underhill once said, “If God was small enough for our minds, he wouldn’t be big enough for our needs”. We simply aren’t meant to completely understand God and everything He does. So let’s not let it restrict us.
Let’s not focus on not being able to replicate God’s love - His is real and perfect. Instead, let’s focus on loving. Verses 7-11 show we are encouraged to love. We are encouraged to love not only because it is what God wants us to do as His children but that loving one another is just a result of knowing God.
Further in 1 John 4 we see that loving and living coincide with one another and become less of two separate terms but one unified meaning when God is at the centre.
Verses 12 and 13 indicate that as we love, we live in God, and He in us. They show us that not only does God live in us but by loving others we are able to bring out God, the God, to expression here in this place. We are able to be the vehicle for his divine love. Because God made love to live.
How special is that?
Love through us
I feel as though we are able to recognise and understand this better with God on our side, but I ask, what about those who don’t yet know God? What about those without faith and who don’t identify as Christian. How do they see God and God’s love? This is an important question to ask ourselves.
I suggest, that they see it through us. That is why it is so important for us to recognise God’s love, because we need to show other people.
John chapter 13, verse 35 says, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples”. We can prove to the world by our love for one another, that we are His disciples.
We don’t show that with conditional love. We show that with God’s love. And so, to love like God, we must spend time in his presence. Verse 17 says “as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.”
It is not easy, I know. Some days we wake up and we may not feel His love, we may not remember what it's like, we may mourn the days where it once filled us like an overflowing fountain - but that doesn’t change the truth.
And the truth is, we have it. We always have it. We are made from it and we are loved by it every moment of every day, whether we do right or we do wrong. It isn’t earthly, it isn’t conditional - it is perfect and it is real.
It is so important we recognise all of this, always, because we live in a time where so many people don't even know God. Verse 4 tells us we have won a victory over these people, so we must share that victory with them. We must share God with them, by sharing love.
For God is love.
Harrison is a twenty-one year old student who is completing his Bachelor of Communications at the end of this year. He was raised in a non-Christian family but has been part of the Church since the beginning of last year. He has a passionate personality which is illustrated in many facets of his life from writing, to sports, food, friends, family and God. Harrison enjoys exploring and grasping different parts of life and discussing them with others. Chat with Harrison further at: firstname.lastname@example.org