Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we love God, but that he loved u, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. I John 4:7-10
Love is the bond of perfectness. It is profoundly ethical and, thus, it is the bond that unites the ethically pure only. The first and great commandment concerns the love of God and the commandment to love our neighbor as our self is like unto it. Love is the unity of the communities of similar interests or sentiments that unites two parties that share a delight in each other. It is the only power in earth and in Heaven that cannot be fathomed by man. Love is defined as an affection, warm liking, or a fondness. But these words do not even begin to describe the true depth of the meaning of love.
The love of God is much more than the love of father, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife; for these are loves of the earth and they belong to this life only. But the love described here by John is one which is born in Heaven and given to man as a gift from God.
In I Corinthians 13:13, Paul says, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.” Love, here stated as charity, is the greatest of these because God is love. This is the noblest of all word portraits of God. This love is much greater than merely saying that God is our “Father”; for, we have only an earthly picture of fatherhood. As we think of fatherhood, it is mainly something just and generous, and not strongly characterized by love. Surely our love must be more than that!
We are also commanded, in both the Old and New Testaments, to “love God with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul, and with all our strength.” Could we really say that we do love God in such a manner? God is the sole Good and the implication of all perfections; therefore, He must be the object of our strong desire and the longing of our whole being.
“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” God’s love for His people was so profoundly ethical that he promised His Son from the time of the fall of man and sent Him in the fullness of time. Instead of showing His deep love by sending His only begotten Son to suffer and die for His undeserving people, He could have sent a written message to tell us of His love, or He could have dispatched a mighty angel to tell us His message. But, no, He sent the Crown and Prince of Heaven, above all angels and heavenly dignitaries, His divine Son, Jesus Christ.
Christ’s love for His people is also very recondite. He gave His life in Holy ministry to the poor, the sick, the oppressed in body and Spirit. At the end of only three and a half years of ministry, He became the willing servant. He gave the supreme proof of His love by dying on the cross for the sins of His people. There was no other and is “none other name under Heaven whereby we must be saved.”
“To love our neighbor as our self: is like unto the commandment to love God. When Christ was nearing the end, with the shadow of the cross on Him, He said to His disciples, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” John also admonished that if “God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.”
One of the most cutting sayings of John is that “if a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” This shows how unfathomable love is and it shows the importance of the commandment to love God. It also shows how closely the commandment to love our neighbor is related to it.
A sure test of the epistle of John is, “Do I love my neighbor? If I truly love him, then I know that I love God, and that I am a Christian.” Most of us love, but we also fear. A son or daughter in the home who had the habit of loving father or mother one day, and drawing back in distrust the next, would be a strange child. So it is in our relation with the Heavenly Father. We have “Torment,” as John says, because our love and trust towards God are not perfect.
Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 2 April 1970