Living Love

In 1970, Stephen Stills sang, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with…”  A few years earlier, John wrote: “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7b)

Does that mean Stephen Stills is “born of God?”  Not necessarily.  Because when John uses the word “love,” he means something very different from what Stephen means.  The opposite.  Here’s the key to understanding what John means by love.  He wrote,

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  (1 John 3:16a)

“Love” is giving myself up for you – my wants, my pride, my self-interest, my needs, etc.  I set aside what I want in order to minister to what you need.  For, example If you “can’t be with the one you love,”  you will still be faithful to her.  The ultimate example of love is Jesus’ choice to die so that we could live.  It’s only in understanding what John means by love that we can make sense of the rest of what he wrote:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:7-10)

Once again, John defines what he means by love.  But notice that God’s act of love is not pointless; it produces in us a new birth (born of God) into new life (…that we might live through Him).  Everyone who accepts God’s Gift of love – Jesus and His atoning sacrifice – is given the Spirit of God.  This Spirit is “born” in the believer and “lives” in him or her.  This is God’s Spirit, the Spirit of love, because “God is love.”

Make sure you follow the logic of these thoughts.  They are not just nice valentines from John, but revolutionary truths!  Only when you comprehend what John is saying here, only when you “get it” with an “Aha!” sort of understanding, will it make sense to read:

“Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

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