This is Love

1 John 4

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Kid play songs of the day are from 1 John 4: 9 & 10 “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sin.” (Aaron Winner has a great song with these verses too).

Having grown up in the Christian church, I think this wonderful news is something that I can often gloss over.  God loved us, so he sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins that we might be saved.  Yeah, I know. 

But when you stop and read it, it is really amazing, especially from our human perspective.  It is pretty easy to do something nice for other people when they love you, when they are nice to you.  But God did this for a people who had turned away from Him, and for future people that would continue to turn from Him.

Thankfully, God’s love does not have a prerequisite.  Based on literally nothing we or anyone else has done, He loves us.  And loved us enough to put His son through excruciating pain to the point of death so that we might be reconciled to him.

How do we show our love?  Do we have requirements for who we show our love to?

The concept of loving someone no matter what they have or have not done goes against our human nature.  It is something we probably need to ask for God’s help for.  It’s ok if we can’t do it on our own.  Because of God’s great love for us, we can be reconciled to Him, and we can ask Him for help in loving others.

I don’t know about you, but I forget to ask for help sometimes.  It is not even always conscious, but my pride gets in the way.  I think I should be able to do what I’m supposed to do on my own.  But as humans, we are flawed.  And I do believe that it is ok to ask God for help in loving people the way we are supposed to.

~Stephanie Fletcher

Reflection Questions

  1. Take time to consider Stephanie’s questions: “How do we show our love?  Do we have requirements for who we show our love to?”
  2. How is God’s love different?
  3. How can we show our thanks for God’s great love?

The Love Chapter

1 John 4

i John 4 11

This chapter starts out with an admonition to “test the spirits to see whether they are of God.” Not every teaching or spirit is true. There is a very important test which can be used to know if a spirit is from God, or not. “By this you know the spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God” (4:2).  The test does NOT say:

  • that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh and yet is fully God
  • that God has come in the flesh as Jesus Christ, taking on a human nature
  • that Jesus Christ came from some pre-existent state into the flesh.

We must be very careful to read the text for what it says and not read into it what it doesn’t say! The phrase “come in the flesh” means that Jesus the Christ (Messiah) is a real human being, not just dressed up like one.

1 John 4 is actually the “love chapter” in the Bible as love is mentioned 26 times, almost three times as many times as in 1 Corinthians 13 (9 times). A friend once read this chapter as a devotional thought on Valentine’s Day, and it stuck with me as the “love chapter.” So much so that when I read it last February 14th, I thought that maybe the children’s song could also go “Yes, God loves me, yes, God loves me… the Bible tells me so.”  Ultimately, it’s God’s love that ignites our love for others through His Son, Jesus the Messiah. A key verse that summarizes this chapter of love showing how love is of God is verse 9.  “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

God took the initiative, motivated by love, to remedy our sin problem.

Knowing that “God is love” (4:8,16) should motivate us to love others. But the author is not calling for a hippie kind of “All you need is love, love”. He is admonishing us to a love of other “brothers” who believe that Jesus, the human Jesus, is the Messiah/Christ (5:1). This admonition to love is a call for unity among like-minded believers, because they are family as the children of God. The way we love other like-minded believers whom we can see demonstrates how much we love God, whom we can’t see. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also (4:21).

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (4:7)

 

Bill & Stephanie Schlegel

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