1 JOHN 4:7-21
7Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10In 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. 11Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
13By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world. 15God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16So 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. 17Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world.18There 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. 19We love because he first loved us. 20Those 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. 21The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need
Well, not exactly. Besides love, we need H2O, food, shelter, clothing, and wifi. When you get a statement that begins with, "All you need is _____," you can bet you'll be saddled with some type of reductionism, the act of taking complex processes or phenomena and wrongfully explaining the complexity or diversity as a result of one or a few fundamental things. Of course, when John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote this song, they weren't proposing a scientific or a philosophical theory to explain exactly what human beings need for survival. They were expressing a sentiment that many people found congenial, something to their liking.
What we find in the above passage is not sentiment. Love is much stronger than sentiment or mere emotion. Perhaps Thomas Aquinas defined love the best when he said "to love is to will the good of another." Emotion is included in love but it's not the central element; the central element is will. Emotions wax and wane. The will of God stands forever. His desire and determination which inform His will cannot be altered. God loves us. Unconditionally so. We are called to love others. Unconditionally as well. That is our highest calling. To love well is life's greatest achievement. Whom are we called to love? God and those who belong to the household of faith (the "brothers and sisters" above).
But if we recall Jesus' words about love, we will remember that we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, and not just those who self-identify as Christians.
If we get this love command right -- by living it out -- then something great and glorious will have taken place. We will have reflected most fully the nature of God, who is love (verse 16).
Heaven, help us. Jesus, inspire us. Holy Spirit, pour out God's love into our hearts (Romans 5:5).
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, amid all the complexities of life and complexities of human relationships, would you help us to do that one, central thing well: that you would help us to love others and love you well. That we would reflect God the Father who loved us before we could love Him back. Help us to love without waiting to be loved. May love show up in our prayers and in our thoughts and in our actions. May the love of God abound! In your name, amen.