Herein Is Love

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:7–10, ESV)

A Christian has three enemies: the world, the flesh and the devil. These work full-time to wreck life—especially life as God would like to see it in us and for us. The first one, the world, is huge. It has gravity (both literally and metaphorically). Its people vastly outnumber Christ’s people and their collective arrogance opposes God. The second one, the devil, is powerful; he is the most powerful being of all save God, and he is exponentially smarter than any Christian is. Furthermore, he has a huge army at his command, and any one of his minions could easily destroy us. The third, the flesh, is where we really live; we fight its battles continually. Although these three enemies attack all biblical concepts, love—perhaps because of its power and its importance to God—gets special attention in the war of the words. But we believers cede the fight when we assent to Satan’s re-definitions of what God has already defined so clearly.

More so than any other biblical author, the apostle John tells what love is and what it is not. He explores both its origins and its outfall by teaching us how our part in the process relates to God’s part in the process: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

We should love God. We should work at it, test it—and prove it to ourselves and to others! If we did, that would please God very much…and hey—we could change the world! But as powerful as all that would be, John reminds us of true love—that which we partake of but cannot attain to: It’s not that we loved him; it’s that he loved us! And he sent his Son to absorb the wrath that should have fallen on us. Now, that’s love!

The world pretends at love. It has this concept called tolerance, whereby humans “love” one another in spite of their differences—and that’s okay on a certain level. But when we Christians preach that Christ is the only way to heaven, the world calls us unloving—because it has redefined love by morphing it into tolerance. But calling tolerance love in no way makes it true that they are equal. In fact, tolerance fails to be love at the very basic level. Let me ask this: Since two-year-olds like to play with abandon, should we tolerate their bent to wander into traffic? Or do we, who know something better, have a responsibility to act? We do indeed! We need to protect and to educate the child—and acting on such a responsibility is love.

In like manner, we Christians see immanent peril where the world does not. We have been born-again by God’s Spirit and have been given vision into the nature of eternity…but this particular vision, the world cannot see (John 3:3). People may know the gospel intellectually, but any person who “knows” the gospel, but who has not placed his faith in Jesus Christ, does not really know the gospel at all. They do not “see” their peril—their immanent destruction.

Love pulls the toddler out of the traffic. It protects, teaches and encourages in rightness of behavior. Love does not tolerate that which destroys! Therefore, toleration is un-love if it is anything; it sends children into traffic…and then calls that behavior “good.”

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20, ESV)

(End). 

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