7 Whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:7,10-12
I am backtracking a bit today, because some of you might have noticed that I skipped talking about a verse yesterday. John wrote a bold statement in verse seven when he said, “Whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” If that doesn’t look bold, let me rephrase it: If you love, you know God. If you don’t know God, you cannot truly love.
He is claiming that those who don’t know God aren’t actually loving at all. In their marriages, their parenting, their friendships- he claims that even though they have these things like everybody else, their “love” is actually only a shadow of what real love is.
Like I said... that is bold.
And I find myself wondering, is it true? Honestly, I know plenty of non-believers who have seemingly good marriages, and good relationships with their kids.
But in a bit of extra honesty, I have to admit, if I’m truly backed against a wall…sometimes, the God-Centered relationships look … well … better.
I think that what John is saying is that “Jesus as love” kicks things up a few notches. When we think of earthly love, we think of romantic comedies where there is fun and passion and romance, but when we think of Jesus’s love, we think first of sacrifice.
Only knowing God will help us understand love as a beautiful form of sacrifice. We learn self-sacrifice, which is the opposite of selfishness, from our perfect example who poured it on us, and only then are we able to turn and pour it on others. It’s the world’s best vicious cycle, but if you don’t know God, you don’t have a way in.
I love the way John closes this little section, by saying that “no one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” John knows that this sacrificial love is only found in Christian relationships, and he knows that it is going to be one of the biggest attractors to the Christian faith.
Our relationships are supposed to be strong and sacrificial, and that is one of the main ways that non-believers see God. Loving the way God does is something that was originally designed to make us stand out.
I pray that we would see an extra helping of God’s sacrificial love today, and that it would pour over into our marriages, our parenting, and our friendships. I pray that we would be an example of love to our neighbors, to the non-believing friends we have, and that they would take notice that there is something special about a love that is built on God.