Summary: God’s love is made perfect in us. And when we say “us”, we do not mean as a bunch of individuals, but rather in our relationships together.
How God’s Love Is Made Perfect: 1 John 4:7-12
The People of God: Studies in 1 John November 13, 2005
Have you ever felt perfectly loved? Like you were free to be completely yourself, without hiding or pretending, without fear, just totally able to be yourself and to discover yourself and to share your thoughts and feelings and hopes and dreams? Have you ever seen love that was made perfect?
God’s love is made perfect in us. And when we say “us”, we do not mean as a bunch of individuals, but rather in our relationships together. God’s love is made perfect in our relationships to one another. How does that sound to you? Impossible? Too far from the reality of your experience of church to make any sense? Or maybe intriguing, inviting, or challenging… It is an incredible statement, if you really stop to digest it. And it is where the passage of 1 John that we are going to look at today ends. Being the people of God means that God’s love is made perfect in us.
This morning’s message is in two parts. In the first part, I am going to walk us through a passage in 1 John, and in the second part Kelly Wiens is going to walk us through one very practical way that we can begin to put into practice that which we are commanded.
1 John 4:7-12 (NRSV)
7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
After talking about testing the spirits, John returns to his main theme: love. This little section tells us three critical things: 1. God is love; 2. God’s love is revealed in Jesus; and 3. God’s love is now made perfect in us.
God Is Love (vs 7-8):
“7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” These last three words challenge a lot of false ideas about who God is. Sometimes, for a large variety of reasons, our ideas about who God is get messed up. We sometimes see Him as cruel, sometimes as a harsh judge, sometimes as arbitrary in how He blesses some and destroys others, sometimes as a benign, powerless, grandfatherly figure, sometimes as an all-powerful Santa Clause. Sometimes, especially when our lives seem out of control or our world seems especially difficult, our perception of God gets messed up. John’s assertion here is critical – “God is love.” Every bit, every action, every part of God is love.
I think one of the reasons we miss that at times is because we focus on the circumstances more than on our character, and God does the opposite. I’ve said this many times before, but I will say it again: God cares more about who we are than about the circumstances we are in. Lots of times, from our perspective, we look at a situation in our lives that is hard or painful and we think that if God is loving, He should do something about that situation. He should heal that sickness, He should change that person who is making our lives difficult, He should make that hard decision for us. We even do that on a global scale, and ask “If God is love, then why is there so much suffering in the world.” It is the wrong emphasis – yes God is love, and the most loving thing He can do is mold us into people whose character is full of love.
Some of you have been learning about worshiping God through pottery – and perhaps that image will make this more clear. The end result is a beautiful, useful bowl or cup or dish or pot. But to get it there, not all the things you do to the clay are particularly comfortable. I’m sure that spinning on a pottery wheel wouldn’t feel particularly nice. Cutting excess clay off wouldn’t feel gentle. Removing the whole piece, smushing it together, and starting from scratch would feel harsh. And then it goes into the furnace at temperatures of 2000F. All are necessary for the end goal, of a beautiful piece of art.