Tonight, we are reading through 1 John 4:7-12. It is here that we find John’s pure distilled Gospel of Love. The heart of John’s message and the Gospel proclamation of the church is found in v.10: “This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” When John writes that “God is Love” this is what John means. God’s love precedes and negates any idea of merit or reciprocity on our part. In all of my readings, two modern writers get closest to what John is writing about in verse 10.
Sovereignty Of Love
The first writer is Jean-Luc Marion, a French, Roman Catholic, post-modern philosopher at the University of Paris-Sorbonne and the University of Chicago. In his book, The Erotic Phenomenon, Marion explores the sovereign power of the person that loves. For Marion, the power of the person that loves goes back to Paul’s idea that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:7). I have attached §18 of his book for your review.
Marion writes that love depends solely and absolutely on the one that loves, i.e., the lover. For the one that loves brings about Love itself. The object of love, the Beloved, does nothing and nothing is required. The Lover must bear all things because he bears all of the burdens of love. The Beloved has no obligations, otherwise, there is not love but a transaction.
The Lover believes all things because he loves without knowing or caring whether there will be any reciprocity and his love is without the condition of reciprocity. It is the Lover’s belief that brings the Beloved into the equation of love and thereby into existence.
The Lover hopes in all things because he loves without possession, control, or merit. Possession is inversely proportional to hope. The Lover can only hope in that which he does not possess and only for as long as he does not possess it. If the Lover possesses the Beloved, and controls the Beloved, or merits the Beloved reciprocity, then hope goes away and the love of the Lover for the Beloved likewise evaporates. But a Love based in hope and not possession, allows the love to continue into infinity.
And the Lover endures all things because Love is necessarily infinite and unconditional. For love to exist the Lover must suffer for and because of the Beloved. The Lover loves whereas the Beloved may reject or simply fail to enter into the love freely given. If the Beloved ceases to cause the Lover to continue to Love, then the love itself ends. For Love to continue into infinity, the Lover must endure regardless and, at times, in spite of, the Beloved.
God Loves Now:
The second writer is Matt Chandler, a Reformed Southern Baptist preacher at the Village Church in Flower Mound (Dallas), Texas. Chandler writes that “God is not in love with some future version of you. It’s not you tomorrow that He loves and delights in. It’s not you when you get your act together. . .. If you believe that Christ’s love for you is a future love for you, then you dismiss the cross of Christ.” God loves us now. As Chandler articulates, God did not bring about our salvation because we loved him first. Nothing we do or do not do affects God’s love for us. The love is unconditional. As Paul writes, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8. We can never be good enough to serve God’s love, thanks be to God. HERE is a short excerpt from Chandler’s talk.
So Should We:
John ends this short discourse on love by circling back around to his beginning statement: Agapētoi agapōmen allēlous – “Beloved, we should love one another.” God’s love for us is wholly unconditional without an expectation of merit or reciprocity by us. He loves us as he finds us, not as we will be. This is the standard, John tells us, of how we should love each other. We should love one another unconditionally without an expectation of merit or reciprocity from the other person. We should love one another as we find one another, not despite but including our imperfections and failings. This is the love John requires of his community and which he requires of us.
Dinner is at 6:30. The menu is chicken parmigiana. Discussion about 7:30 followed by Compline. Hope to see you here.
In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another .1 John 4:10-11.