(Matthew 1:20,21; 1 John 4:7-17)
Lesson 3 -- first quarter 1998
December 21, 1997
© Copyright 1997, Christian Light Publications
What is love?
"No man hath seen God at any time." What does that have to do with love?
"Love is...." I wonder how many different endings I have read and written, heard and spoken for that sentence. "Love is not...." I suppose the variety and range of endings for this sentence rivals those of the first. Today as we face again the question "What is love?" I propose we look no farther than our printed text.
Love is of God. One of God's gifts to the human race is love. This is not a gift He reserved solely for His children by redemption but a gift He has generously bestowed on all His children by creation. In other words, He has given the Christian and the non-Christian alike the capacity to receive love and the ability to give love. Everyone who loves and is loved is indebted to God: "Love is of God." We can also express this as a negative: no God, no love.
We must realize, though, that the Christian knows love in a special measure. The God of love working the love of God in his heart deepens his capacity for love and fortifies his ability to love. Therefore, the Christian who proclaims he can't or won't love someone crams himself into a dangerous little box: "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." Never forget this: know God, know love.
Love is God sending His Son. Many would dare accuse God of being quite egotistical for demanding absolute surrender and complete obedience. These people totally miss God's absolute, complete manifestation of love. He sent His Son! And He did so for our benefit!
Why did God love us in this way? "That we might live through him." He saw us dead in our trespasses and sins...and loved us that we might live. Live forever, yes; but also live in expanding fullness in this life. He died that we might live. That is love.
Why did God love us in this way? So we would have an effective "propitiation for our sins." He saw us bearing a weight we could not shed and a debt we could never even pay interest on. So He loved us that we might be entirely forgiven and free. That is love.
"No man hath seen God at any time." This statement does not seem to fit the context of its native verse. In fact, it seems totally out of context in this entire passage. How does it relate to love, anyway?!
Though no one has seen God at any time, many see God's children in all kinds of place, in all kinds of circumstances, at all kinds of times. We Christians are highly visible. Are we visibly high...in love? Those who see us should be able to see our Father. Those who know us should be able to say that they have known our God. Why?
Because we love. And "love is of God."
"Can the world see Jesus when they look at your life?" A former student of mine put that to music. It is up to each one of us to put it to practice. Those about us should experience love from us of such degree and quality that they know that "God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us." God manifested His love only once by sending His Son. But He would manifest it often through us, "because as he is, so are we in this world."
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