1 John 4:7-12. 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
In theology class students learn about the simplicity of God. God is simple? Yes. God’s simplicity means that he is not many separate attributes that together make up his whole character. Like God is part love, and part justice, and part mercy, and part holiness. But rather God is simply whole in all his attributes. He is wholly love. He is wholly just. He is wholly mercy. He is wholly holy (see what I did there?).
We see this here in 1 John 4 when John declares that God IS love. He doesn’t just have love. He doesn’t love some times. He doesn’t choose to love instead of to not love. He IS love. He simply cannot not love. Everything he does is loving. His judgments and punishments and even his wrath is love.
Thankfully John doesn’t only say something as existential as God is love though. Yes, he defines God as love, but he also describes for us what God’s love looks like – and therefore, what all love looks like. And it is radiating! It is free flowing. God’s love is always expressive. It is always shared never withheld. God’s love first flowed from the Father to the Son. Jesus is described by John as God’s only son. Older versions will say “only begotten Son.” You see, Jesus is eternally begotten by God. The Father has always been lovingly giving life to the Son. In fact, this is the only way that we can declare that God IS love – if God’s love has an eternal object. And it does. God has always loved God. As the Trinity God has always been pouring out his love within himself. For all eternity there has been giving, and receiving, and sharing, and exalting within the God-head. Imagine, if God were only a single person he would never have been able to love. He would just be a great big cosmic jerk. Not the creating, compassionate, crucified savior of the world.
And this God of ours, who IS love, must and has shared this love with us. How? First, by coming to us (Christmas) to free us from our sins (Easter) – In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. This is true love. unconditional love. Enemy love. We did nothing to deserve, or earn, or even ask for this love. Love simply came to us in the form of the one who had been receiving the Father’s love for a million, trillion lifetimes. Love came down to atone for our sin. To propitiate. To cancel all our debts and remove all legal barriers between us and our perfect and holy Creator.
But the cross was not the end of God’s love for us, he was just getting started. God also brought us into his own circle of love with the Trinity. He has allowed us to be born of God and know God by and through his love. By and through our union with Christ. Now the God who IS love is alive in us! Now we participate in the divine nature – LOVE!
What is the natural result of our union with the God who IS love? Here it is – Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Just as birds ought to fly, and fish ought to swim, why? Because that is what they were born to do. So too, beloveds ought to love. This is our new nature. A love impulse. A love instinct. A life of love. Like Christ, we too can now love by giving, sharing, sacrificing, and submitting. We too can love others freely without the fear of love being withheld from us. We can love fully, knowing that we are forever fully loved by Love himself.
“To live is Christ” is to know you are loved by Love. And then it is to love. To love one another freely and fully as those in whom God’s love is being perfected IN US as we learn more and more each day to trust his love FOR US.
How’s it going loving others? How’s it going trusting God’s love for you?
You in Christ
How does the cross prove God’s love for you? How does union with Christ prove God’s love for you?
Christ in you
How OUGHT you to love today?
Playlist: God is Love