And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
-1 John 4:16
Whoever lives in LOVE lives in God, and God in them.
If you consider that the Spirit dwells in believers (1 Corinthians 3:16) and the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE (Galatians 5:22) the concept makes perfect sense. God is LOVE and whoever accepts and believes that so far as to live it, lives in Him and He in them.
Simple, right? So why is it so hard to live a life that reflects and stems from LOVE?
I think it starts when LOVE is stifled by our own arrogance and pride. Honestly, it is a challenge some days to be humble. We live in a time of technological marvels designed by man. We live in a time when we can see much of the world in relative ease and comfort. I have managed to set myself up with a sense of control and security- emotionally, financially, physically. And, if I keep my mind distracted it is easy to forget how humble I should be. It becomes easy to forget how small and helpless I am. It is easy to miss how dependent and insignificant each of us is.
And because I have so much false self “love” it is hard to understand what genuine Godly LOVE really is. My “love” is so limited, so conditional, so watered down. I find myself unable to muster compassion because it takes too much energy, and it is too inconvenient. I find myself unable to risk the rejection, the heartbreak, the hurt because my version of “love” is so conditional, so fragile, so in need of secure and control. I think I know that my version of “love” is warped and false.
So then, what is it? What is real LOVE?
The Bible reveals the answer in summation to the greatest LOVE story…
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
I don’t know that this gives me much in the way of instruction, but it does lead me to think that maybe I can’t come up with this on my own. That maybe I need God, who is the author of LOVE– the God that is LOVE– to help me to grasp and experience LOVE.
God’s actions. God’s motivation. God’s plan. All of the path to human redemption was written and carried out by God. This verse speaks of a LOVE that is sacrificial, full of grace, full of hope. It speaks to a people who have no right to pride, no right to self “love”.
Shortly after this verse the author tells us how we are to respond to such LOVE:
We love Him, because He first loved us.
-1 John 4:19
To LOVE Him, to let Him LOVE me. To abide in LOVE so that I abide in God and God abides in me. These are kinds of thoughts that spring a weary soul back to life. These are the kinds of notions that bring a hope of Spring in mid-Winter.
To abide in LOVE, to abide in God. Doesn’t that sound like a life worth living? Like one worth searching and fighting for? There are moments in this journey where the Spirit turns within me and reminds me that there is such a life beyond my small minded and selfish thoughts. I journey forward confident, like Paul, that the God who began this good work will see it through to completion (Philippians 1:6).
I am proud and arrogant so often, repeatedly failing to live in light of your grace and LOVE. I pray that you awaken me to the presence and the gift of the Holy Spirit. May I receive the promise of LOVE from the Spirit, who dwells in your people.
Spirit, come, fill me with an understanding of LOVE, with gratitude for LOVE that sacrifices and forgives. Helper, fill me with LOVE for God- who loved me enough to save me. Fill me with LOVE for humanity that God LOVED enough to save. Rid me of the false version of ‘love’ that so often I accept as true out of laziness or convenience. Having seen and known what is true, help me to never settle for the lesser that the evils of this world try to sell me.
May I abide in you, in your LOVE.
You are good and your LOVE endures forever and ever.
In the name of the Son, Jesus,
In the power of the Holy Spirit,
Because of the great LOVE of the Father,
I pray these things, AMEN.