We understand love by knowing god.
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.
1 JOHN 4:16
Let’s talk “love.”
There’s just so, so much for us in our verse this month. Let’s read it again together. “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.” It’s just packed down and overflowing with goodness, and I can’t wait to unpack it with you! I want to discover and discuss how we know and rely on God’s love. I want to consider what it means to live “in love” and “in God,” while he lives in us. WHOA—these are some mind-blowing ideas that just trigger questions in my mind. BUT, before we can get to all of that goodness, there’s this one absolutely foundational concept we need to try to wrap our heads around. And it’s not merely crucial to understanding our verse, it’s fundamental to the fabric of our universe. Here it is: God is love. Not what you were thinking? I know it might sound sentimental compared to other universal necessities like gravity, but hear me out! One way to understand the significance of this idea is to consider its alternative.
What if God wasn’t love?
I may not have a PhD in Theology, but I can tell you this, none of us wants to live in a universe where God is NOT love. Love is one of God’s essential attributes. I know, I know, they’re all essential, but humor me here. If we were to separate out love, and imagine God (and the universe) without it… well, one shudders to think. What would a loveless God look like? What would our just, eternal, all-knowing, completely sovereign God be like without love? I can think of one very significant event that was motivated by love. It was because “God so loved the world” that he gave his Son as Savior (John 3:16). Jesus also affirms that he gave up his life “so that the world may learn that I love the Father…” (John 14:31). Without love, one wonders whether God would have reached out to save humanity at all. But, why venture into the shaky ground of bleak theological hypotheticals, when we have so much to learn about our firmly blessed reality.
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(CONTINUED FROM ABOVE)
God IS love.
Have you noticed yet how weird this sentence is? It’s not the typical usage of the word, “love.” It doesn’t say God loves someone or something. And he isn’t in the state of being “in love.” It also doesn’t describe God’s love as perfect or eternal or complete. Instead, our verse presents the relationship between God and love as far more bold and intimate. Our verse says, “God IS love.” This means that love is inseparable from God and vice-versa. After our hypothetical separation, we can all let out a relieved “Whew!” knowing that God and love are bound together forever. Thus, if we’re to think of love correctly, we must understand it as being perfectly embodied by God. And conversely, if we are to think of God rightly, we cannot separate him from the fact that he IS love.
Let’s flesh out this relationship between God and Love.
Well, I could just be a stink-bomb and say, “Love is whatever God does. And God does whatever is loving. Period. Let’s all go home.” While it would be true, it certainly wouldn’t be helpful. Also, it’s not some great mystery in the Bible. In fact, it’s jammed full of good teaching about love generally, and God’s love specifically. First off, I’m reminded of the 1 Corinthians 13 “love passage”—it’s the one you hear read at weddings.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails… (1 Cor 13:4-8a).
What a truly beautiful picture of love. Love always looks out for the other person before the self. Love gives up it’s own preferences and privileges in order to bless others. Love forgives and protects and hopes and lasts forever. Sound familiar? This definition of love sounds JUST LIKE God. You could even substitute his name for the word love and get an honest picture of God. Conversely, when we look at God’s actions in Scripture, we see the full picture of what love looks like. The pinnacle of God’s expression of love for humankind comes at the cross. Jesus said, “...Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Do you see the inseparability of love and God here? Jesus, the Son, cannot but love his friends in this “greatest way” because it is who he is. And by loving us in this way, he embodies love perfectly. This is who Jesus is: love in the flesh.
As we finish off (for now) I want to leave you with this verse.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10).
Praise God that he has defined and embodied love for us!
WHY DO YOU THINK IT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE CORRECTLY DEFINE LOVE?
HOW HAS GOD SHOWN YOU LOVE IN YOUR LIFE?
WHAT BIBLE STORY COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT GOD'S LOVE?
Thanks for reading,
Meet Natalie,Dwell co-founder
Hi there, I'm Natalie. I'm so glad you're here. I'd love to connect with you and hear more about what God is doing in your life!
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