Especially for those of us who have spent any time at church, one of the sentiments expressed in today’s Daily Office probably seems like the most important and most obvious truth of all:
“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 4:10)
And yet, I can’t help but wonder if we are too often guilty of pushing this truth aside and organizing our attitudes and behaviors around “cultural adaptations” of love that are far less demanding and which therefore confront us far less frequently with the challenge of transformation. Because it seems to me that this “definition” of love drives home at least two key ideas:
- The love that God has for us in Christ is given to us – not because we deserve it – but because God chooses to give it. We’re loved – not because we loved God – but because He loved us.
- The love that God has for us in Christ is costly to the Lover. It was demonstrated in the willingness of Jesus to be a servant and a sacrifice.
How radically might our hearts and lives change if we truly believed this and understood that it reveals the pattern by which our lives are meant to be lived? How might loving like this transform our interpersonal relationships? Our position on various social issues? Our conception of what it means for America to be a “Christian nation,” that not only “believes” certain truths but that organizes its life and its policies around the truth it claims to profess?
A little later in this same chapter, John offers this observation:
“This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” (1 John 4:17)
How could Love be “made complete” in us today? How could we “be like Jesus in this world” today by giving sacrificial love to those who don’t deserve it?
Since God has loved us in this way, may we so love one another (v. 11).