Is God living in you? How do you know for sure? John spells it out simply here, “All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.” That seems pretty straightforward. In John’s day, and probably still in current day, there are people who believe Jesus was a man and not God, or God but not a man. John goes out of his way in this book to make sure we are clear that Jesus is God and also a man.
If we are clear on who Jesus is – God’s Son, we can also be sure that we have God living inside us. Since we know that God is love, we know that we are capable of loving because God is in us. It’s a beautiful love triangle. But it all depends on God.
We have all known grumpy people who seem to be mad at the world. They are probably also the same ones who have a hard time loving. They don’t love themselves or the life they have been given. They have an even harder time loving others. They can’t imagine why they would want to love someone else. It’s definitely harder to love others when you don’t love yourself. If you don’t love God, you can’t do either. Truly.
What is love? God showed us exactly what it is when he sent his Son, Jesus. He loved us that much. He knew what Jesus was going to do for us. As God, Jesus continued that love when he sacrificed his life and died on the cross. Think of those days of agony and time in the grave. Jesus was also man, so the idea of death was frightening. We see his humanity in his final hours.
This reading today is all about love. There is a lot of loving and living going on. That’s what God hopes for us–that we love as he has loved. When we accept his offer and live in him as he lives in us, our love can’t help but become more perfect.
What is perfect love? Our love becomes more perfect the more we spend time with Jesus, learning to love like him. Perfect love expels all fear. We don’t need to be afraid of anything. Perfect love feels like the peaceful comfort of a warm blanket on a cold night.
Think about this – if God is love and his love is without end, how can there be fear? Fear comes from our own human limitations and failings and how we feel about that in terms of other people’s impression of us. We fear judgment.
What do we desire then? Do we desire to know God and be more like him? Or do we desire to be popular in this world setting aside all that is holy, good, and true? Or do we desire to live in some gray area in between?
We are commanded to love. If we don’t love God, we can’t love each other properly. Yet, if we can’t love each other, those who we can see, how can we love our God whom we cannot see? That was an interesting question John pointed out. What do you think about that? Such love should be shared between believers and not just be one-sided.
Being seen as loving is what sets us apart as followers of Christ. We have been given the responsibility to love one another. It’s not a bad gig at all. It’s really quite lovely. Have you ever really thought about how you feel for people in your church, or those that share your belief in Christ as the Son of God? Is it love?
Let’s pray. Lord, the idea of love is not foreign to me. I’ve been loved and know how that feels, and I love others. I know how it feels when those whom I love don’t return my love or take my love for granted. Help them to understand what love is and how we are called to love one another with mutual love. Help me a better lover of other believers whether I agree with their behavior or not. You are love. You are my focus. Thank you for living in me to make me a better lover. In Jesus’ name. Amen.