God is love

This is written by Sarah Harris. She is a journalist, small person, worrier, dad joker, pub frequenter, terrible cook, enthusiastic eater.

1 John 4:7-21

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 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. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: in this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Reflection

What is your experience of human love? It could be with a romantic partner, friends, family or even strangers. It can be demonstrated through kind acts, words, gifts and all sorts of other ways. It can be wonderful – but it can also be conditional, confusing and painful. We all mess up sometimes, hurting and letting down those we love, and in turn experience disappointment and pain when someone else messes up.

But the love discussed in this passage isn't like that. It's a perfect love. If you've only ever experienced imperfect, human love, that can be a tough one to get your head around. But God's love is something we don’t have to work to achieve. It's there for us if we want it. All we have to do is open our hands and receive it. It's there simply because that is what God is. He is love. It's inescapable, it's all-encompassing and it's unconditional. God's love surpasses anything that is on offer in the world and it will not let you down.

Do you live your life like a person who is unconditionally loved? Do you draw your self-worth from knowing you are secure in a perfect love?

This passage also explains that we can experience God's love by practising love towards others in turn. We won't be able to replicate the way our Father loves us, because we're flawed human beings, but we can have a taste of it. Yes, we can enjoy security and strength in the knowledge that we are adored by our Father, but to experience love in all its fullness, we have to do our best to show that same love to others. How can you show others a taste of the love your Father has shown you?
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