Wow there’s a whole lot of love in this passage…
1 John 4:7-21
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 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. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 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. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 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.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
This passage is rather long and I had first planned on just linking to an online version of it. However, after reading through it a couple times I just had to post it completely. I am struck by the overwhelming expression of love in this passage. I know…I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve been taught that God is love since before I can remember. Furthermore, I could easily write twenty blog posts on this passage. I know that all Scripture is God breathed and useful…but this passage is God breathed at about 10,000 psi. Therefore, for the purpose of this post, as I prepare my heart for this Christmas, even though I can dig into each passage individually, I want to look at the big picture of this passage as a portrait crafted by a fine artist.
Did you ever see a work of fine art that moved or inspired you deeply. For me, Michelangelo’s work on the Sistine Chapel ceiling is one of those inspiring works. When many people think of this work they think of the following image.
However, Michelangelo’s actual total work on the Sistine Chapel looked like this…
Michelangelo painted dozens and dozens of stunning paintings on fresh plaster on an uneven ceiling several stories off the ground…and he didn’t even consider himself to be a painter. Each painting on the Sistine Chapel could be considered an individual masterpiece in and of itself. But when you view the entire ceiling as a whole, it is breath taking. I have only seen it in photographs and I am still moved by this great work of art. This is how I view 1 John 4:7-21. It is an overwhelmingly beautiful portrait of God that inspires and challenges me to consider the reality of how God’s love changes everything as we know it in our world.
God is Love – 4:8
God Created Love – 4:7
God Loves Us – 4:9
God Loves Us – 4:11
God Loved Us First – 4:19
It is hard for me respond to this reality with anything but worship. What else can I do in response to this kind of love but worship God…but how…that is another beautiful thing about this passage…it tells us how.
Love One Another – 4:7
Love One Another – 4:11
Love One Another – 4:12
Love Jesus – 4:15
Live in Love – 4:16
Live in Confidence – 4:17
Live Without Fear – 4:18
Love God – 4:20
Love One Another – 4:20
Love One Another – 4:21
Love One Another – 4:21
It may just be me, but it seems like God really wants us to Love One Another…Subtle. It would also seem that to love God requires us to Love One Another. This reminds me of the words of Jesus when he spoke in Matthew 22:37-40 on the first and second greatest commandments of God.
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
It would seem to me that God gives us some insight into a way we to respond to the amazing love that he poured out to us through Jesus. The least we can do is love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. But it would also seem that it is impossible for us to do this without loving our neighbor, or, “one another,” This should be an easy enough request. But yet we struggle with it so.