Stroll through Scripture for July 14, 2024

Based on 1 John 4:7-21

Love and Abiding.  That’s the three-word summary for this section of Scripture.  The Lutheran Study Bible offers this very short, but to the point summation of this passage: “Loving God and loving our neighbor cannot be separated.” (Pg. 2017).  That’s a great summary.  There’s also no wiggle room in that either.  

To love God is to know God.  But 1 John reminds us that it all starts from God loving us first.  It’s only possible to love God, or our neighbor, or anyone else for that matter, because God loved us first.  In that sense, God knows us and loves us.  I can’t emphasize this enough – God finds us lovable, even when we have trouble loving ourselves.  

This past week I heard a pastor talk about God’s love.  This pastor said that all our hatred towards others, our lack of love, our anger, our fear, and more – all of these things are just outward expressions of the difficulty we have with loving ourselves.  

So what is this love that 1 John talks about.  The Greek here is a form of Agape.  In Greek there are four types of love.  This love is often referred to as divine love.  It is God preferring.  That’s an act of will.  We’re not talking about emotions, or sappy feelings.  We’re talking about love as a force to be reckoned with.  In a sense, agape love is God’s stubborn love.  How appropriate too.  Humanity has spent eons fighting God and God’s ways, rejecting God, saying one thing and then doing the opposite.  And in spite of all of that and more, God stubbornly persists in loving humanity.  Wow!

Lastly, I want to highlight vs. 20 – “Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers and sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.”  Human beings are made in the image and likeness of God.  So what the author of 1 John is saying here is that if we hate another person, we are rejecting the very image of God.  And how can we say we love God if we are rejecting God’s image?  Imagine how our politics, work, finances, international relations, personal relationships, care for creation, and more would be different if humanity actually followed what 1 John is saying.  

Questions for Reflection:

  • We are in a time of deep divisions.  How can you apply what you read in 1 John to these divisions?  
  • You can’t control what others will do or say, but you have some control over what you do or say – how will you hear 1 John and make what is written a part of your interactions with others?
  • How does God love you?  Where do you see it?  How does this encourage you?

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