I could have said, “who is God?” but for today I wanted us to have an understanding of the “what” of God….what makes up who God is? Today we will define part of what makes up God so we can get him, and his role in our lives and the world, better. Because of what God is there is an accountability to how we reveal God to our brothers and sisters in Christ and how the world sees Jesus in us.
1 John 4:7,8
Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
We throw the word “love” around all of the time. I love my dog, I love a roast beef and cheese Primanti’s sandwich, I love my family…does it mean I love all of those things the same? Do you think Paige would be happy thinking I loved her like I love our dog, or a sandwich?
This epistle of John is really a sermon not so much a letter, it has not been addressed to anyone specifically and its “feel” is that of a teaching/sermon rather than a letter. As he begins this portion of his sermon he too is differentiating “love” He is calling the church to a higher calling, saying especially the way that we treat brothers and sisters in Christ.
If you take the time to read the first 6 verses of this chapter you will see John is saying, there are those that call themselves Christians. They will think they are something, they will say they move in the power of God but are in reality teaching something that is a replacement of Jesus not the real Jesus.
John writes to test the people to see if they really are of Christ! The test is, do they really live the love Jesus and the Father have for us?
Then he begins here saying love one another, anyone that loves is of God…..if we read that as the English translates it we could easily say, “well then everyone is of God, because surely every one loves! My neighbor loves his dog, Jeff Bezos loves his girlfriend, Adolf Hitler loved Eva Braun…is this passage saying that all of these people are therefore children of God?
This is where the English fails us…..there are four different words for “love” in Greek (very simple explanations)
Storge – empathy – more like the love you would identify with a pet, light love affection
Philia – friendship – brotherly or sisterly love close relationship deeper bond
Eros – romantic, sexual love – spouses have for each other
Agape – unconditional, lay down your life for someone kind of love that never stops, God’s love
As John is writing here, he is saying, Let’s unconditionally lay down our lives for each other, everyone who does this, always, is a child of God! God unconditionally loves us and will never stop loving us so this is the way we should be toward each other. If people say they are Christ-followers and they are gossiping, lying, stirring up division yet saying they love, they don’t, they are not part of the family…this is not God’s love.
How is that for a standard to measure your Christian walk? God is Love and we are called to be that same love if we are to call ourselves Christ-followers
Here is what’s going on…
– John wrote this sermon about 50 years after the resurrection of Jesus.
– Persecution had hit the church but worse people in the church were beginning to rebel against leadership… (The church has always grown stronger through persecution from the outside, damage has been done by heretics and anti-Christ spirit inside the church see parable of seeds and birds in the mustard tree Matthew 13)
– John needs to remind people what it means to be a Christ-follower not based on show, but based on fruit
1 John 4:9,10
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
In Genesis 22 God asks Abraham to be willing to sacrifice his son to show his sacrificial and obedient love for the Lord but God stops him…but God did not do the same for us, he sacrificed his one and only begotten Son for us, so we could be forgiven….have you ever thought how could a completely just God, forgive us of our sin…that is a violation of justice but that is what love does it is grace, God’s Riches At Christ Expense that before we knew how to really love, before we understood what love really means, God loved us first to show us, this is how to really be my children, how to really love!
God is love and he showed us what to expect from his love so if we are true believer’s we will love in the same way!
1 John 4: 11,12
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
John is saying we know God is Spirit and because of that you can’t see the Father in the flesh, but he still wants everyone to be able to know him, experience and know His love. If you claim to be a Christ-follower, “agape” each other, lay down your lives for one another, love regardless of whether you are loved in return, help people to walk in truth, build them up always, encourage always, hope for the best for them, believe in them and help them believe in themselves and God. In this way everyone will “see” God!
I know this sounds impossible in some ways, to love some people even in the body of Christ. To be the example of God’s love in our hurting and broken world. We need to always remember that different people have different gifts.
Paul talked about the body made up of different but needed parts
1 Corinthians 12: 24b -25
So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.
Our love is to transcend our differences, to challenge each other to grow, and to appreciate the value of one another’s calling. I know and God knows that is not easy for us but that is part of why He gave us His Spirit.
1 John 4:13
And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us.
We tend to focus lots on the gifts of the Spirit and I have challenged us as a church to not focus on gifts but on fruit. This is one of the many scriptures that are a challenge to us. John obviously ,by his Gospel, wants us to flow in the power of the Spirit through the gifts, as Jesus did, but is saying our lives, our actions, our reactions, our attitudes reflect that we truly have the Holy Spirit living in us. He is a gift from God given to us by the Father because of Jesus death and resurrection. His Spirit is Love.
1 John 4:14,15
Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.
John is saying because God is love and we (“we,” being every believer who is reading this book) see it in each other, we see this love by the Spirit’s power in us and then we live in love, we live in God, in fellowship with God the Father, God the son, through the power of the Spirit…
What does this mean? It means living in the love of God we are in, daily because of relationship with him. If I am doing that and you are doing that, then we can live in His love together and impact each other’s world and the world around us better being one in His Spirit by love.
God is love….what is God? He is love and if we are living in Him, we are living in His love and I am living in His love and you are living in His love then we are one body working together to bring that love to a broken world, that love being God!
Let’s wrap this up for today!
1 John 4:16,17
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
Get this….if we are living in His love, we experience it every day, we see it in our lives and the lives of those around us every day….we know what real love is, it will not be shaken, it will not be broken, it will not leave us…as we choose to believe this and apply it to our daily lives we mature in our understanding of that love and it grows deeper….we truly are reflecting Jesus being like Jesus in this broken world and we have nothing to fear from God or the judgement.
We are becoming the love God is because of our learning to become just like him….the end result people see it, see Him in us and their lives are changed and…
1 John 4:18,19
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 19 We love each other because he loved us first.
Love and fear are direct opposites….did you hear me? if we know him, we understand what God is…love! We accept that if He is love then we too must be love, living in Him, allowing him to completely live in us then we can easily love others…because who we serve is love…
So today we learned because God is love…We…
are free from sin, guilt and condemnation because he sent Jesus
know God lives in us, we are the expression of His love to a broken world
are living this love in a broken world is the real proof His Spirit is in us
Are able to live like God wants us too
Are able to trust Him more and we become the expression of Jesus in this world
Live without fear, as His love matures in us we know His love is greater than any fear!