“ We love because he first loved us.” ~ 1 John 4:19
Explanation of the Text: Love is a strange concept. For many people it is seen as the easiest concept of not just a Christian life, but for any person to understand and apply. Others spend a lifetime trying to figure it out. Regardless of any person’s thoughts on the subject, love will never be understood rightly until one understands that God is love. It is only then that true love can even remotely be understood. This is because until love is defined according to God’s definition and standards it is never truly love.
Here we find another aspect of love that only makes sense when it is examined in light of God. We can only love because God loved us. It is God who initiates love to us and through us. Love for us is responsive. We can only love God and others as a response to His loving of us. Thus, true love never exists where God is not present. This means that a secular world who denies God cannot truly love because they have not experienced God’s love (which is why it is so easy for the secular world to to redefine marriage; because they never understood the definition of love). “Love must never be conceived of as a ‘natural’ experience of the natural man” (1).
Examination & Application of the Text: The application of this text can take us so many different directions.I have no idea of knowing what is going on in your life, and so while I can give you some general thoughts, only you know the specific application to your current situation. However, in light of recent events, I think there is some important concepts that we must consider. As God initiates love to us, then it continues on through us. My point is simply that because God loves us, we love others. We have a responsibility to point others to God, and the way to do that is by showing them His love. With the state of current affairs, we see Christians doing so much through political activism. First off this is generally not as effective, and second, it often forces people into situations in which they deny God’s love.
We must be cautious to maintain a testimony that demonstrates the character of God. There may be times in which this is difficult, but it never negates our calling of who we are to be.
Questions to Consider:
- What role does God’s love play in your life?
- What assurances do you have that God’s love is active in you life?
- What practical ways can you point other’s to God?
(1) Glenn W. Barker, 1, 2, 3, John, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Edited by Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 347.