google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html Gems in the Letter of 1 John - Part 115
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Gems in the Letter of 1 John

Part 115 - 1 John 4:16
God is love.


This is one of the diamonds of John’s gems! Unfortunately, the first thing I must say is to be careful and not think of it as ‘Love is God’. It isn’t! Even though many pop songs etc. would seem to suggest it is. The verses before and after this phrase stand out and we need to read them. We have:

 
“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. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they 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 them. 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. 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. 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. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

How can we summarize what we have there and put it together into one idea. I would suggest that we should go back to the idea which is dominant in the first 3 Gospels but which John used very little. And that is the idea of ‘kingdom’, the kingdom of God. One of the dominant characteristics of that kingdom, if not THE dominant characteristic is ‘love’

We live in a world in which more people than ever before are changing the kingdom, or nation, within which they are going to live. There are huge numbers of displaced people and migrants all over the world. They are causing problems. Many of them want to live in a different country but without changing their culture. But the existing people of the country demand that they should change culture, accepting theirs and fitting in properly. The outcome is conflict.

Jesus followers have no choice. They are to change their culture to that of the kingdom of God. The dominant feature of it is ‘love’. They are to receive the love of God because they are born of God; they have received all the benefits of the death of the Son of God through his atoning sacrifice on the cross. That love must be reflected out from their lives. If it isn’t they are not truly born of God and have not received those benefits: the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Spirit. That reflection means that we love one another. We will also have confidence for the moment when we have to approach the throne of judgement. Fear will not be a factor on that day and should not be now.

Our task now is not to be careful not to break a long list of rules. It is to live as true citizens of the Kingdom, rejoicing in our relationship to its Lord and Ruler and in our relationships to every other member of that Kingdom. What a prospect! What a challenge! What a joy!

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