22 January 2020

1 John 4:1-16a

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. (v. 12)

Psalm: Psalm 119:129-144


We come to one of the memorable passages of Scripture when we think through the relationship between love and God. We are told that love comes from God (v. 7), that God is love (v. 8), and that love is revealed in the sending of Jesus (v. 9). Love draws out a response from us in that what we have received we share, and so we love one another.

This is an easier test for us than in the previous verses. We are more comfortable expressing our faith in love towards others, and this through words, attitudes and actions. By doing this, we are witnessing that God lives in us (v. 12). God, who is Spirit, is known by others through the example of love in God’s people.

And we confirm our faith further by testifying that Jesus is the Son of God. But ‘easier said than done’ is perhaps inverted here. Many of us today are better and more comfortable at doing loving actions than speaking of our faith. There is a strength in this as our loving actions do speak to others, but perhaps they don’t actually speak as loudly as we imagine. Christians have far from the monopoly on loving actions. If we fail to testify to Jesus’ work in our lives, we are at clear risk of denying Christ. What seems like gentle words are actually very challenging to many of us.


To Ponder:

  • It’s not easy to always love others. How does our failure to always love others impact our relationship with God?
  • Throughout history there have been Christian leaders who have acted in ways that are far from loving towards others. We can even example that in our present. How do we as followers of God end up expressing anger, bitterness and even hatred to others?
  • What does it mean to you to rely on the love God has for you (v. 16)?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Stephen Skuce

Stephen Skuce is currently Director of Global Relationships for the Methodist Church. An Irish Methodist presbyter and former mission partner in Sri Lanka, he has served with British Methodism for the last 14 years in roles at Cliff College and as Methodism’s Director of Research.

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