When I think of love, I get all Nicholas Sparksy. Probably it is less getting that way and more being that way. My notions of love come pre-mixed: love = passion, man & woman, romance, emotion, never-ending, forever-after, candles, and just-the-two-of-us. You might not be wired that way, but someone around you probably is. Then along splashes a verse like the first one in today’s lesson.
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. (1 John 5:1–ESV)
Ok, the first phrase, the one about believing Jesus is the anointed one of God does not produce any hiccups for me. Look at the lesson of 1 John 4:1 if you want to read down that trail. My hiccups begin in the second half of the verse.
Love the Father? Nothing much jives right down in my innards over that for I don’t have any natural terms for loving a man, God, father, or otherwise.
Loving “whoever has been born of him,” that is, every Christian? Nope, not working on many levels there either.
This is not a new problem for me, and the second and third verses of this chapter are ones that help to uncoil my inner tangles.
2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:2-3–ESV)
Loving the Father
Love of God is the most crucial aspect, and verse 3 tells us about this. Obedience is the mark of love in this context. Love for God is not feeling or emotion but actions born out of allegiance. God, according to John, is far less concerned about warm fuzzies than he is about alignment.
Fondness for God is internal, defined almost entirely in terms of personal experience. Love, as John describes God’s consideration of it, is the reaching out beyond one’s private pleasures into the needs of others. 1 John 4:10 tells us that love from God’s vantage is not our reaching out to him, but the reverse: his reaching out to us and going all of the extra miles. He came in the flesh, and he died in it to meet our needs.
It is quite possible to have pleasant thoughts about what God has done for us and live in our own worlds. It is like reading a novel, being enamored by the character’s sacrifices, but taking it no further. Love in God’s manner is living our lives in his manner. So, for people like me who upon reading words that talk of loving the Father don’t know how to package it: think on obedience.