What is Love of God and what is our Human Love
1 Jn 4:7-16 (NIV)
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 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. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 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.
A very famous passage. Repeatedly read and quoted. I encourage you to look at it again and answer the question: why does he „who does not love does not know God”?
It will be helpful to respond by defining the term „God is love” based on this passage. It is very important that we understand what this means, because in the modern world the word love has lost or completely changed its meaning.
The Apostle John in 7th verse calls to “love one another”. Why is this important and why is there such an emphasis on it?
Because it results from the very essence of love. What is God’s love, the act of this love, we read in verses 9 and 10. This is the message of the Only Begotten Son so that we men may have life (this is verse 9), and we read further in verse 10 that the Son was offered as a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins.
God, seeing the hopeless situation of man, undertakes a rescue operation (simply put). He does this so that our life is not just a biological existence (in Greek βίος [bios]), which ends in physical and spiritual death (separation from God for eternity). God wants man to have a deep relationship with Him and he calls this relationship life (in the Greek Ζωη [zoe] and this word is used in verse 9, and it means a full life, having meaning, purpose and value, a relationship with God, eternal life).
What words can be used to describe this act of God’s love? Generosity, unconditionality (we did not love God, he loved us first) respond to the need, desire for good. There is sacrifice, cost and suffering. We also see perseverance, not giving up, and above all this act, it is an act of forgiveness and giving a new chance, a new beginning.
This act of love is to do the right thing at the right time in the right way. He gives value to man. Man as a person has been recognized by God as worthy, worthy of this sacrifice.
That is why we read: „If God has so loved us, then we also should love one another”.
There is another reason. No one has ever seen God, but if we show ourselves the love that He shows us, we are proving to the world that He exists. We must remember that the word ‘world’ in the writings of the Apostle John is not only what surrounds us, but it is a reality unfavorable and hostile to God. And this world exalts and proposes love, which is geared towards satisfying pleasure, towards taking, is hedonistic and short-lived. God’s love is enduring, faithful, and ready to sacrifice, to step out of your comfort zone. This is love out of this world.
This kind of love is not possible without the supernatural work of God in us. And if we have not experienced this love, we will not be able to show it to others.
In the following verses (13-15) we read that in order to enable us to love people in this way, God gave us His Spirit. Since you believed in Jesus, you belong to God. Since you have believed that you are unconditionally loved and all things have been forgiven, you can love and forgive others.
In the last verse of this passage, the Apostle John writes: „We have experienced it, therefore we write about it and it is why we call you to show this love of God to one another, thus „proving” to the world that He exists.
This call is especially important for us, parents, to show such love to our children. This is often the only way they come to know God, and when they experience that love, they will be ready to follow Him.
Think for a moment if you believe that God in Jesus loves you unconditionally and has forgiven you everything.
How does he want you to love other people around you (in family, work, community…)? What can you change in your actions to apply the call to love one another?
What steps can you take to love your children unconditionally?