1 John 4:7-21
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 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. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in 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 him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
I often say, “I have yet to meet a single person whom God does not passionately love”- and occasionally I’m asked precisely what I mean by that. Does this mean that God loves murderers and thieves (or *gasp* the gays?). Why do I clarify the phrase with the word “passionately” when perhaps it’s more precise to simply say “love”. God certainly doesn’t lie awake at night fantasizing about how badly he wants to be with us, imagining a world in which there would be no barriers between his love and our hearts.
Or does he?
I imagine that he does. I imagine that every harsh word, every sin, every fading glance pains God. It is his desire to be reunited with us. After all, he sent his son so that we could be Christ’s bride.
Can you imagine a father saying, “we want you in our family so badly that one of us will die to win your heart?”
But… yet… This is love, not that we have loved God but that God loves us. Our knowledge of, understanding of, and ability to love are all birthed from God. It is through love that we come to know God, through the work of our hands and the cries of our hearts for each other. It is through demonstrating love that we show the world who God and who Christ is.
We must learn to feel the passion, the burning in the bones, the explicit agony of hope, the dream of bringing the world before God as a spotless bride.
We must love.
And remember- anyone who says they love God but hates their brother is a liar.