The Life of Love

1 John 4

If I say the word “Love” what do you think of? There are lots of songs about love as well as many books films and stories. But what are we really talking about – what do we mean by love? You can’t see it – but you can see the effect on people in love, or the action of people loving one another.

When I fell in love with Helen (my wife) I didn’t know what had hit me. I hadn’t said anything to the ladies in my office team, but apparently they could see that I’d somehow changed – and once I’d had the courage to confess to Helen and she reciprocated, I lost a stone in weight!
(I’ve put it back now!)

We’re looking at Chapter 4 of the letter of John, and have the title “The life of love” and this chapter is mostly about the love that God has for us, and the need, if we’re seriously following Jesus, for us to love God, and show this by truly loving one another.

When we speak about love, we’re often talking about romantic love, or sexual love – a love, which you feel in your whole being. But the Bible is mostly talking about love as something to be done, rather than just feelings – it’s an action word. It says here in verse 9 that God is love and that

…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. God loved us first, and by His Spirit enables us to love each other.

On this passage my commentary says:

Love is the very nature of God – everything He does is charged with love. This is expressed by his justice, and revealed through Jesus’ death and resurrection. It therefore has a shape to it – it’s not a sentimental feeling, but a righteous force for action.

Christian love is to reflect God’s self-giving love.

(Do you recall John’s gospel, chapter 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”)

Hostility, or hate within the body of Christ is a contradiction – just as God showed his love by giving his Son, so are we to show love by caring, or doing what we can to others (John mentions in Chapter 3: 17 & 18 even sharing our possessions). This is humanly possible only when we experience God’s love personally, and by his Holy Spirit working in us.

Love within the fellowship of Christians enables God to reveal more of His love to flow through us and make us effective in His service. His love banishes fear of other people, persecution and eternal punishment. It can purify our conscience and re-assure us when we sin. You can’t be rude to anyone when you’ve known love like that.

We may not necessarily LIKE a particular person, but if we are following Jesus, he commands us to love them. How different things would be in our lives and in the lives of those around us and in the world if we were able to love like that.

I was sad last week as I went to the funeral of someone who had been a strong Christian and lived out her faith in amazing ways and touched the lives of many people. She came from a family of Christians, and her brother in=law (also a Christian) gave the tribute about how wonderful she had been. Yet sadly that part of the family had been estranged from her brother and sister in-law who hadn’t even been told when the funeral was!

You will remember that Jesus summed up all his teaching, by saying Love God, and Love your neighbour (everyone we come into contact with.)

St. Paul (in The Message Bible paraphrase) when talking about love in 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 says:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Robin WilliamsonPosted on Tuesday July 24th, 2018 by Robin Williamson (based on his sermon in church at the 6:30pm service on Sunday ssnd July).

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