“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (I John 4:7&8)
There is a praise chorus that uses these verses as the lyrics. It is a very short refrain song, and very easy to sing/repeat over and over again. I say it so much that whenever I read these two verses the song echoes and echoes in my mind – as does the sentiment. The writer of I John goes on to explain the rationale behind these two sing-song verses.
“God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.” (Verses 9 – 11)
It reminds on of John 3:16, “God so loved the world . . . “ The writer of I John says further . . .
“No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.” (Verse 12)
Think on this, beloved reader. No one can really give us a reliable description of what God looks like; if they think they can, it is more likely that it was an “aspect” or limited view of the God-self. So the best we can do is love the “spark” of God that is in each person, and by doing that we are showing our love for God. The writer of I John says furthermore . . .
“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.” (Verses 13-16a)
So if our fellow believers love God, then God is within them, and by loving them we are also love God.
“God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world.” (Verses 16b-17)
Our love of our fellow believer, and our love of God will save us on the Day of Judgment. So let us boldly love the followers of God.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us.” (Verses 18 & 19)
I pause here again, beloved reader, for I wish to add something. When God first loved us, we were sinners and non-believers. I say this boldly because each of us who now believes at one time did not; no matter our faith story and journey, there was a time that we can to faith. And if we came to faith, we came out of non-faith. We must love not only our fellow believers, but those who do not yet believe because once we were as they are. And God loved us then, as God loves us now.
“Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, [again, our believing and non-believing brothers and sisters] are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.” (Verses 20 -21)
Beloved reader, I have not seen most of you, nor is it likely I will ever see most of you; but I do love you! Shalom!