Posts Tagged ‘1 John 4’

1 JOHN 4:7-21

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21 The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

Our writer knew how easy it is for anyone to say “I love God” without the experience of inner release (faith) to the Divine Reality that is Love itself. The world is full of nicely developed egos who prefer dogmatic certainty about God to the authentic experience of God. In the name of this God of dogma, outsiders have been crusaded against and heretics persecuted, ostensibly in order to “defend the faith,” but in reality it’s always been about preserving the ego in its range of anxious control.

This sounds like we’re making the ego into a purely negative principle, when in fact it is neither negative nor positive, but paradoxical. To the degree that fear rules in us – that is, the variety of fears related to losing control – the challenge or invitation to let go, relinquish, and surrender what we’re holding onto for the sake of entering into a deeper and wider freedom is taken (note the term) as a threat and impossibility.

So how can we know that the ultimate reality beneath and throughout all that we sense and feel is really Love, and not the cold abyss we fear as we cling here to our ego securities? We, you can believe this writer, or you can believe in the revelation of Jesus as this writer has. But when it comes right down to it, your full persuasion won’t happen until you take the leap yourself. “God is love” names an experience that requires your “death” at one level and brings you to life – real Life – at another.

1 JOHN 4:7-21

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21 The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

We said earlier that faith is a risk. How so? Simply because of the fact that its venture of belief is in something beneath the level and outside the range of our sensory certainties. Furthermore, faith is properly speaking not the content of the belief but the act of believing – of trusting in, relying upon, or surrendering to the reality behind your notions about it.

It is not sufficient, then, merely to believe that something exists, even if that something is God. Faith is not choosing to believe in God even though (as the skeptic might argue) firm evidence is lacking, but is rather deciding to commit yourself to God and to what you understand God is about in the world.

The claim in this passage, that God is love, is therefore much more than a piece of Christian dogmatic knowledge. Love is not being singled out and elevated here as a quality or attribute of God – that God is loving, among other things. This is not dogmatic knowledge but convictional knowledge, not a matter of defining God but an exclamation out of the deep experience of God: God IS love!

And how exactly does that involve risk? Simply because the experience itself is entered only as we leap from the elevation of our ego and release ourselves totally to the gracious and generous “womb” of the divine ground beneath and within us. Such release is commonly feared by the ego, since its formation is really the achievement of control, by stages, along the developmental path toward maturity. We might grieve the ego and its separations, but the leap of faith depends on it.

1 JOHN 4:7-21

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21 The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

The revolutionary discovery at the heart of the Christian experience is that the ultimate reality underlying and energizing all things is Love. Not a frigid emptiness or a sterile abyss, but a gracious presence sustains and affirms existence itself. Why was that such a significant discovery?

It was significant because, as psychology has confirmed, there is in the formation of our human self-consciousness (ego) an accumulation of unavoidable anxiety. Coming into our own separate sense of self involves a whole series of concurrent losses, very often symbolized as variations on our original “fall” from the prenatal womb. We take with us, as it were, a growing sense of exile – coming into our own, yes, but often feeling alienated or estranged from the source and ground of our being.

Out of this condition arises the great question of religion: Am I all alone, or is there something more beyond me, something more to me, than I presently know? Faith is the risk – and then the assurance – in believing that there is a providential intention behind the universe itself, and that it has you in mind.