One of the most definitive statements of the Bible is – God is love (1 John 4:8). Not God is like love; or God loves; or God is lovely; but God is love. Love is the definition of God. Love is His very nature. And this Sunday we celebrate the manifestation of this very love. 1 John 4 concludes this thought with, “If God so loved us, we ought to love one another.”
I’ve been thinking about all the people I love here. All the people I will miss and last night I was thinking about a friend of mine (who I will refer to as X) and her husband (Y). For obvious reasons, I am closer to her than I am to her husband. It’s easy for me to say that I love X. We talk every day, we laugh all the time, we take care of each other’s kids, we eat together, we drink coffee together, we study the Bible together, and we love each other. And to love X is easy to do. Loving Y, her husband, doesn’t really register in my system the same way it does with loving X. However, last night I had an overwhelming feeling of love for Y and said to Toby, “I really love Y.” Toby asked “Why?” I had an epiphany. I had been mulling over some thoughts yesterday about how much X loves Y. How much she respects him and cares for him and would die for him. It hit me that I love Y, not only because he is a good guy, but because over the years, I have seen great evidence that he is loved deeply by his wife, whom I love. And because she loves her husband, I love him too. Not in the same way, of course, but he has new worth to me. Not because he has merited my love per se, but because X has given him value.
What if I applied a similar system of “love-worthiness” to everyone? What if I understood, I mean truly understood, how much God loves every single person in my life (and outside of my life) – those who I am close to, those who I am not close to, and even those who I don’t want to be close to. The bank teller, the plumber, the student waiting for the bus, the tax auditor, the homeless guy, the mother and her child, the lady handing me a Happy Meal, the person who made me angry, everyone. E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e.
1 John tells us that God loves everyone. He loves because it is His nature. He IS love. What if we looked at someone and didn’t create our love or care or respect for that person out of their own merit, but on the merit that God has given them. What if we loved that other person immediately because we knew someone we loved, loved them enough to die for them. Can you imagine what this world would be like?
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” ~1 John 4:9