I’m not sure what comes to your mind when the question is asked, “How’s your love life?” But I think if the Lord of the universe was asking us that question that He would be asking us how are we doing in experiencing the sense of His love for us and then transforming that love into our relationships today. John in his 1st epistle reminds us of the significance of God’s love when he writes, “7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”, (4:7-9 NKJV).
John begins by challenging us to love. He begins with “beloved”- those who are divinely loved. His readers are not only loved by God but they are loved by John as well. Those who are loved by God should therefore love one another. The love that John refers to in this passage that should be produced by the Holy Spirit is in the Greek “agapeo”. Agapeo love is a supernatural love. It is a love that seeks the highest good for the object of one’s affection regardless of personal sacrifice or pain involved and it is a commitment of one’s will. It is a self-giving personal commitment regardless of grateful response. The word ‘love” in the Greek language is in the present tense and speaks of this being a continuous action. The idea that we should be habitually loving one another. But can you actually command love? Shouldn’t love just naturally flow from our hearts as a result of our affections? Well, the love John is talking about is a commitment of the will. Yes love can therefore be commanded. Jesus commands us “To love the Lord our God with all our mind, heart and soul”. Paul commands husband to love their wives as Christ loved the church. The challenge in this passage is for us to love one another. I say it’s a challenge because some Christians can be unlovable some of the time while other Christians can be down right unlovable most of the time. This is where this “agapeo” love, this supernatural love is so necessary.
The 2nd thing we see in this passage is the source of Christian love. The love that we have is from God, as John states “God is love”. If love proceeds from God then it must be a characteristic of those who partake of His divine nature. As His children we have been “born of God”. This new birth is a permanent thing. A truly born again child of God remains a child of God forever due to God’s great love. When Scripture speaks of the fact that God is love it is referring the fact that His nature is to love. Love is more than a manifestation or an act of God, it is the very essence of His nature. In many ways these verses are the pinnacle of 1st John. They show us that love doesn’t define God but that God defines love.
In verse 9 John talks about the fact that “the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him”, (3:9 NKJV). We will pick up with some thoughts on this verse after Christmas. But for now this verse is a perfect reminder of what we should be celebrating this Christmas season. God manifested His love towards us through His only begotten Son- Jesus Christ. The word “manifested” means “to come out in the open or to be made public”. God made His love public to us 1st of all when Jesus Christ was born. Remember the declaration of the angels to the shepherds in the gospel of Luke on the night before Jesus’ birth, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (2:10-11 NKJV). God gave us the very best He had to give and this a message for “all” people. That’s a great reason for celebrating the birth of the King of kings and Lord of lords into humanity. He didn’t just come for the Jews or Gentiles, or blacks or white, brown, yellow or orange. He came for everyone. So let us make sure we are worshipping the King of glory this Christmas season by bowing our hearts and lives before Him and by loving one another.
Celebrating God’s Glorious Gift,
Pastor Rich Sivo