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The discussion of love continues for John . . . it may seem perplexing . . . why does John care so much about love. What’s the big deal?
It’s hard to know what was the personal, social climate in the first century. Did the normal person feel as isolated as we do? Did they feel a sorrow to their loneliness? Even in a relationship like marriage, did they feel connected, known, loved, and cared for? Do any of these things really matter? Yes! Because as the Bible tells us, God has created us with the capacity for human experience and relational depth. This is contrary to the way that so many of us behave. We are not silos, to operate in isolation. In love, he designed us as rational, emotional, relational beings to enjoy and take delight in all his creation, including each other.
John knows from hanging out with Jesus that God’s love is core to our humanity. It is what God created us for with him and each other. But things get in the way, don’t they? And we resist love. We even sometimes actively deflect it. Consequently, we don’t practice it with each other. In fact, rather than love we give into things like self-criticism and accusations, condemnation and fear. These all distort love, even extinguish it, not only with God but with each other.
Verse 16 frames and defines love. According to John, it’s not based on how we feel or what we get from someone else. Love has to do with sacrifice – Jesus’ sacrifice of his life for us. This gives us freedom and boldness to sacrifice our lives for others, to love the way Jesus loves.
When we get a grip on the love of Christ, we realize it is both personal and world changing. Needless to say, I venture to guess that what ultimately transformed us is not doctrine, theology, legalism or religion but the sacrificial, unearned, abundant love of Christ.
Jesus, take hold of my heart. Continue to talk to me about my creation and your love. Forgive me for being so self-occupied that I act as if your love is secondary. Give me eyes to see the isolated, hurting people around me. Today, I want to lead with your love for everyone I encounter. Amen.
Meg has a passion to see men and women mature in Christ through reconciled, healed relationships. Recently, she launched The Crossing Ministries, www.thecrossingministries.com to invite others to think about who they are, who God is, and how the relationships in their lives can be reconciled and healed. Before ordination to the priesthood, she had a unique career on Capitol Hill, concluding with Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie and RADM Dr. Barry Black in the US Senate Chaplain’s Office. She also worked collaboratively with Dr. Francis Collins, the former director of the National Institutes of Health, producing: Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith. Currently, she’s working on a new book called: The Risk of Ordinary Suffering: When We are Ready to Give up on God.