“Beloved, since God loves us in this way, we also ought to love one another,” said the Apostle John (1 John 4:11, author’s translation).
Last week we looked at how lavishly and selflessly God has loved us. He chose to send his one and only Son into the world as an atonement for sin so that we might live (1 John 4:9-10). We long to comprehend and practice this type of love in our lives. Yet, this love does not arise naturally from within us.
If we are stone-cold sober in our evaluation of the ways we love, we would find that what we often label love is found lacking. When placed next to God’s love for us, our ways of loving are pale in comparison. One might love in order to woo someone they are attract to. One might love to gain friends, influence people, or otherwise benefit from their love. Can such shadows of love truly be said to be God’s love? One might love out of mere obedience to the moral law. Yet, can even this be said to be God’s love? Obedience can become more about me than about you. Doing the right thing can become my way of esteeming myself to myself instead of selflessly looking after your interests. One might make love conditional, saying, “if you love me, then I’ll love you.” Can such love truly be said to be God’s love? The entertainment industry has a penchant for portraying love as spontaneous, a pleasant accident. This again is another shadowy deception.
For the one who has been touched by God’s love, God’s way of loving becomes a delightful duty. He has encountered this love. He wants to mirror it. His deepest satisfaction is loving like God has loved him.
The nineteenth century, Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, in his Works of Love, says that God’s love is “eternally secured against every change, eternally made free in blessed independence, eternally and happily secured against despair.” For the Christian, the object of one’s love is his or her neighbor. And who is one’s neighbor? Everyone! (Luke 10:29-37) This way of loving is eternally secure, because no matter what my neighbor does, I am bound to love him, because God has loved me like this first.
Once God’s love gets hold of you, you can’t help but make it your duty to love likewise. In this way, “love is made complete in us (1 John 4:12).” What is one way you can fulfill your duty to love like this today?