“Love on So Many Levels”
1 John 4:7-16
Rev. Mark M. Vickers
May 14, 2017
1 John 4:7-16The Message (MSG) 7-10 My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. 11-12 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love! 13-16 This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.
I have experienced so many levels of love in my life and over the past two and half years, I’m afraid to count the number of times. In less than seven days, I will be married to one of the most beautiful, kind-hearted, loving and gifted women I have ever known. For twenty-eight years, I was married to a woman I deeply loved! I have not one, but two congregations that I love with all of my heart, and I believe that love is mutual.
What I have just said, I take very seriously! For you see, love is more than a four letter word; love is more than “a many splendid thing,” love is what hangs before us now as we enter this room, and love is what scripture proclaims, “God is Love.” We often run the risk of trivializing and playing the “love” word ‘down.’ We, I mean Christians, over time have made the word a “gooey” word. We, in short, have attempted to define what love is supposed to be.
How crazy can we be? It is right here before us! In St. John’s v.8, “God is love.” What more can be said? Well, actually a lot, but for the understanding of the truth of God’s Word, we have to look at what St. John was attempting to accomplish at this point. I believe he was attempting to set the pivotal forefront for what we, as Christians, are to be in light of what God has created us to be! We are created in God’s image, therefore we must obtain, maintain, and sustain love.
Yet we struggle sometimes with what we mean by love. St. John, in writing this letter, wants us to understand that all we do in our Christian lives must be rooted in love! Therefore, being a creature of God, we are the ones that must distribute this love with all the force that we can.
In order to do that, we have to understand how God loves! God loves more than words can describe. Yet, I love what John Wesley says in his commentary on verse 8. He says, “This little sentence brought St. John more sweetness, even in the time he was writing it, than the whole world can bring. God is often styled holy, righteous, wise; but not holiness, righteousness, or wisdom in the abstract, as he is said to be love; intimating that this is his darling, his reigning attribute, the attribute that sheds an amiable glory on all his other perfections.” In other words, this just sets the pattern for everything else God intends and does in God’s creation. Yet it is the driving force for ALL such actions that we, who are loved by God must do.
It continues to be what I call, a “relational understanding of God.” For if we partake in living a life of love then God is with us, God is in us even though we have not seen God, God dwells within us, “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12)
Here again, we see that the love of God is a commanding love. It is not a mushy marshmallow, dripping with chocolate kind of love! It is a love that requires us to be at the forefront of our relationship not only with God but with one another. St. John continues to remind us that this love is the most prevalent type of love that can avail itself to the world.
Loving someone takes work!! Loving God takes work!! We are reminded this morning with a wonderful legacy and testimony of one of the world’s greatest theologians, that God is love and when we understand this, not just in our head but in our hearts, our lives, and our passions, then we are able to move forward into a world and be the disciples that God through Jesus desired for us to be.
The uniqueness of this scripture and of most of St. John’s writings, are that the engage us in a way of life! We see continually in this text this morning that the action of love is that we love because God first loved us. And it is only in loving each other and those that we don’t know, that the love for the world via the Gospel of Jesus Christ comes alive.
My friends, we are all about some love of Jesus here at St. Timothy’s. I believe we are doing what Wesley instructed us to do and that is move that love toward perfection. Yet the buck doesn’t stop there! The “buck” has to be extended into the world in such a way that we can grasp and proclaim what love we have to offer to a hurting and disenfranchised world.
The counter-measure that St. John presents us today is simply that! We cannot hold onto the love of God selfishly. We have to share it in order that all humankind can attempt to fathom the love of God in Jesus Christ that we know and love.
My friends, take heed today and from now on and every Sunday as you leave this place of worship with the words that will embrace you and cover you as you leave. For this my friends, is the end result of why God loves us so very, very, very, much!!
AMEN & AMEN