By Stan Brown
I John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
John turns from his warning about testing the spirits to determine which are from God to the subject of love, a subject which is certainly dear to his heart. This is not as an abrupt a change in thought as one might first think as he declares that the love is present in the abiding (we in Him and He in us) believer. In this verse he uses the word love (agape love) four times. He begins by addressing his readers as beloved for the fifth time in this epistle. John is an example of one who truly loves and everything he has already said in this epistle is an example of the love he is about to describe. We might think that the love Jesus exhibited is too high a mark for us to achieve but John declares that he loves us in the manner he is about to depict. If John can exhibit this humble love then so can we. We are included in the beloved of John. We must love one another as God loves us. Note: John’s love for us proceeds directly from God as does our love.
John says, very simply and without equivocation, that the source of all love is from God. He then says that two things are true about everyone who loves. First, they are born of God. That is, they have placed their faith in Jesus and are recipients of eternal life. Why then, do we see believers all around us, including sometimes when we look in the mirror, that do not love? John simply says there is a second requirement. It is what he has been elucidating throughout his entire letter. We must know Him. How many folks get married and never really know each other? Too many. How many folks get saved and never truly know Him who gave them eternal life. Way too many. John says that love is sourced only in God and only those who are both born of God and know Him will exhibit that love. Indeed, he says that we will display that love when we are born of God and know Him. Loving is not a proof that we have eternal life although that is required. It is a demonstration that we are truly experiencing the mutual abiding of we in Him and He in us.
But wait a minute you might say; don’t we see love all around us in the world with people helping people and doing good things for one another? Sure we do. After all we are created in God’s image and although diminished because of sin it remains in us. But we are not talking here about man’s love. We are talking about God’s love. The bar of the love sourced in God is a high bar indeed and too few of us reach it. This is not to suggest perfect love (John mentions that later) because we remain sinners who require the continual cleansing of the blood of Christ. We cannot choose who it is that we are to love if we are to exhibit God’s love. He died for all in making His love available for all.
OK, I am stopping here because this thing of God’s love is such a huge topic that I could go on forever. I could touch on the love chapter in I Cor. 13. I could look at the fact that Jesus had a special relationship with three of His disciples. I could look at forgiveness. I could examine the fact that God has a special relationship with believers who walk in the light but I will not do any of that. I will only say that we must abide in Him and He in us. You see, it is not love that we are pursuing. It is an intimate relationship with the One who is the source of all love. When we have this, love flows naturally from the abiding believer. Let us seek that fellowship with Him that we might love.