Passage: 1 John 4:7-12 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
The Foundation – 2 Thoughts
1. God IS love –God’s being, his essence is purely other-centred, self-giving, relational love.
“This world was not created by a God who is only an individual, nor is it the emanation of an impersonal force. It is not the product of power struggles between personal deities, nor of random, violent, accidental natural forces. Christians reject these other creation accounts, which refuse to give love primacy. We believe the world was made by a God who is a community of persons who have loved each other for all eternity. You where made for mutually self-giving other directed love. Self centred-ness destroys the fabric of what God has made” (Tim Keller – The Reason for God)
2. God SHOWS love – God loves even those who don’t love him.
“It is not hard for God to love; it is impossible for him not to love” Dallas Willard
HOSEA – Hosea gives us a picture of God’s love for people who choose to turn away from him.
Our Response – 2 Dangers
1. Depends on ME – There is a danger that we approach God’s love centred on what WE can do.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10
“Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldermort can’t understand, it’s love. He didn’t realise that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves it’s own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved is now gone, will give us some protection for ever. It’s in your very skin. Quirrell, full of hatred, greed and ambition, sharing his soul with Voldemort, could not touch you for this reason. It was agony to touch a person marked with something so good.”
(Harry Potter & The Philosophers Stone)
2. It’s just for ME –There is a danger that this never goes beyond us.
‘these are not a set of pious exercises for the devout, but a trumpet call to obedient living in a sin cracked world… they call us to rage peace in a world obsessed with war, to plead for justice in a world filled with inequity, to stand with the poor and disinherited in a world that has forgotten it’s neighbour’ (Richard Foster Celebration of The Discipline)
Firstly – God IS love. It’s His essence, it’s who He is and what we are made for, but we have fallen short of that love.
Secondly – God SHOWS His love. In Jesus we see that God’s loves goes even to those who don’t deserve it and have fallen short. God’s love is prepared to step in and pay the price.
Thirdly – This love is about HE not ME. While it involves me, requires effort and change from me it can never be centred or dependant on me. If it is we will fall under the weight of guilt, pressure and trying to earn what has already been earned for us in Christ.
Fourthly – This love works it way OUTWARDS, it’s not ours to keep or hold on to, it’s for now and for those around us. This love changes who we are, it changes how we view people, treat people and live our lives.
1. What do you find interesting about a foundation of love built on God? How is it different to what we know?
2. How might this love affect how you approach spiritual disciplines?
3. Is there anything you found particularly interesting/challenging/confusing from this morning?
4. How might this foundation affect how you live your life?
What have I found interesting?
What has challenged my life, attitudes and actions?
How would this habit help me to become more like Jesus?
How would this habit help me to introduce others to Jesus?
What practical steps do I need to take to incorporate this habit into my life?
Is there there anything I need to pray about, explore further or extra help I need?
Is there someone I should to share with, pray with or encourage?