New Expressions of Eternal Love
Love is the desire to give ourselves to another. Love cannot be invented from nothing; it is a cascade which starts with God. It is at the heart of the Godhead, because God is love (1 John 4:8). The Father loved the Son and gave Him authority over everything (Ephesians 1:22). God loved the world by giving His Son (John 3:16). The Son loved us by willingly giving His life for us (Ephesians 5:2). So you see that the only reason we can love is that He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
In the Old Testament, God's people were commanded to love Him (Deuteronomy 6:5), and were commanded to respect other people. Jesus affirmed that commandment and added the responsibility to love the 'neighbour' (Luke 10:27), and the other disciples (John 13:35). Jesus demonstrated that during His ministry. So for the 1st Century church it was an 'old commandment'. But John said that love needs to find new expressions every day.
These verses start to explain what John had previously said: "…whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did" (1 John 2:6). Jesus lived a life of love, and yet the churches had been so disturbed by false teaching that division became more important than unity. Patronage overtook brotherly love; favouritism excluded the weak and poor; and new Gnostic teaching claimed that the physical/material world was evil but spiritual thoughts and ideas were good. And yet we can only express love physically – in what we say, or write, or in the many physical ways of serving people (and Jesus had a physical body to teach, do good and die for the sins of the world).
Everybody in the world receives God's love; but those who have responded to the love of Jesus understand how great that love is. The light is not only in Jesus, it is in us too. Living in the light means expressing the love of Jesus to those who need it - without patronising, or serving favourites first. Love is more than thinking or praying – it is giving appropriately to those who are near to you. That should start in the church and ripple out to the community. Although there are many needs and demands, as you pray the Holy Spirit will guide your practical giving and physical service so that the light of Christ will shine where you live and work. And don't forget, it is not an option but a command.
© Dr Paul Adams