7 Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. 8 The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. 10 This is love: it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins.
11 Dear friends, if God loved us this way, we also ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love each other, God remains in us and his love is made perfect in us.
42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. 43 A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. 44 All the believers were united and shared everything. 45 They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. 46 Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. 47 They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.
As John wrote about how Christians treat one another, he likely remembered where he and Jesus' other disciples began. They jockeyed for position, and got angry with one another at times (cf. Mark 10:35-45). So John knew that loving others with Christ’s love doesn’t just spring naturally from warm human feelings. It goes much deeper than just being “nice.” This kind of active agape love comes from the heart of God. The God of the universe loves us—that is the reason we love. The first Christians lived in loving community enabled by the Holy Spirit’s presence. They lived and worshiped together, rooted in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, prayer and sharing as the Spirit kept the risen, loving Christ present with them.
Dear God, you ARE love—what an amazing, mind-stretching truth. You know that it’s not quite as natural for me to love. Please keep loving me as I stretch and grow in my ability to reflect your love to others. Amen.
This past weekend I had an outdoor wedding at a beautiful country venue. The grass was a spring green and the sky bright blue after the rains the night before. The happy couple said their vows under newly leafed-out trees and a pergola draped in white and decorated with flowers. The bride and groom’s happy radiance affected us all and smiles emanated from the gathering of family and friends.
If only we could hold on to these feelings of love at all times in our relationships. Invariably, though, we find that our human nature gets in the way. At some point we start keeping score or withholding from one another. This is why I remind my couples that you can try as you might in your own power to create and maintain your love for one another, but it’s not possible without God. As 1 John 4:8 reminds us, “love is from God.” This makes the Christian life of love a supernatural life.
Patience, humility, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness and love-–these virtues or fruits of the spirit that demonstrate our love--don’t come naturally (Gal. 5:22). They are gifts God gives us through the Holy Spirit. A life of love takes resources that we do not have on our own. This is crucial for us to understand and although humbling, this knowledge is encouraging as well.
If you are sitting there and thinking, "I am not by nature a loving person," you are not at a disadvantage! Nobody is by nature a loving person. In fact, to acknowledge this may give us a leg up over a person who feels that love is a natural thing. When a relationship stumbles they may not look for resources in the right places. This is why I advise every couple that as they love each other, as they learn to make space for one another, they need to be intentional about creating space for God as well. You cannot build a marriage, or any relationship of love for that matter, on a better foundation. To live in love, is to live in God. So . . . if you need a little help in the love department, your best bet is to turn to God.
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