Tuesday 20 August 2013

Bible Book:
1 John

1 John 4:7-12 Tuesday 20 August 2013


John Wesley's verdict on the first letter of John was, "Howplain, how full, and how deep a compendium of genuineChristianity!" You can understand why. There is surely no moreprofound account of what Christians mean by the love of God thanthese few verses. 1 Corinthians 13 may be more poetic ("Love ispatient, love is kind", etc), but John teaches us what love is likeby telling the story of the God who is at work in Jesus. Love, heis saying, is not so much a beautiful feeling as it is self-givingand self-denying action. And God is nothing more or less thantotal, utter love.

Notice that God's love is very different from some of theassumptions about love we make in our culture. This often sees lovein terms of possession; 'I love' and 'I want' can mean almost thesame. But, so John tells us, God's love is directed outwardstowards us and it is costly. The Son has been sent into the worldto be "an atoning sacrifice" (v. 10). The New Testament uses manyways to describe how Jesus' death restores our relationship withGod. Later this week we will see the Book of Revelation using thelanguage of ransom from slavery. Here, John is reminding readers ofthe traditional Jewish sacrificial system that reached its climaxon the Day of Atonement.

Notice, too, that God's loving action in Christ provides us witha way of knowing the God we cannot see. The God known by Christiansis a Christ-shaped God and a crucified God.

And all of that cashes out in human action. We learn to love bybeing loved, first by God and also by our human neighbours. Thelove that we express between us is a reflection and sign of God'slove to us.

To Ponder

  • What have been your most important experiences of beingloved?
  • How have these experiences helped you learn how to love?
  • How does the model of God's sacrificial love in Jesus informyour understanding of love?
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