God Is Love
My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!
This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.
To Love, to Be Loved
God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.
1 John 4:7-19 The Message
I recently sat in a conference where I heard about how we can do more than we anticipate or give ourselves enough credit for. The speaker had us reach upward towards the sky with our arms, stretching them as high as we could. The conference room, full of about 200 people, all reached up. Then the speaker began talking about how much more we could do if we gave it our all. Then the speaker said reach up to the ceiling a little more. The whole conference of people reached their arms up another inch or so. Thus, making the point that when we think we are doing everything we can, we can always do a little more.
Rev. Dr. Nagel Monroe recently gave a message on the scripture of John 4:7-19; it was the opening message of a series of messages about love and perhaps a love revolution. This particular message gave us insight to love God, first and foremost.
This message hit me right in the feels; this concept that I, myself, am lacking in loving God with my whole being, everything that I am. Don’t get me wrong, I do love God, but maybe perhaps I have more love to give to God than I first understood.
At our last Ignition:Youth , I used this scripture to discuss this topic of loving God. As we talked about the many ways in which we could love God I expressed this idea of loving God with our whole being, more than we thought we could. I used this illustration of lifting our arms to the sky, expressing that this is everything that we have, our whole self, reaching to love God with everything we are. Then, of course, I asked them to reach a little more. Teenagers being teenagers, I knew that they had not given all they had the first time around, so I knew that there was much more height that they could gain with their arms. They all reached upward, much more than the first time.
I played into the fact that they didn’t give it their all the first time, that God wants more from us than a lousy response. He wants everything we have the first time and that when we think that we have given it our all, reach a little more.
Do we fully understand and embrace that the love we have for God plays a significant role in how we love others? Do we fully grasp the concept that we have more to give than we first thought? Do we allow ourselves to give the most we have the first time? What about all the time?
Lord, we love you, but we often don’t allow ourselves to love you with all that we are; with our whole being. Help us to understand that the love we have for you is in direct correlation with how we love others. We have more to give to you than we first thought; that we must open ourselves up even more to reach the full capacity of loving you. See us through this journey of love. Amen
Tim Boyer, Director of Student Ministries