Meditations in 1 John : 55 : Reliant on God’s love
1 John 4:16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
There are possibly two of THE most significant statements in these verse that you can find anywhere in the whole Bible. Yes, that is a strong statement, but I believe it to be true. The first significant statement is “we… rely on the love God has for us.” This is so basic and fundamental to Christian belief and so unique in the whole world that it is on one hand staggering but on the other hand something I suspect most of us take for granted.
But think about this. I often receive comments or questions about God’s word and so often they come from Christians and non-Christians who are uncertain about God. Who God is and what he is like is at the heart of most people’s concern, although of course many people just push it to the back of their minds and ignore it – but it is there! So often people’s concern is about whether they think God approves them and their life. That must always be the biggest human doubt. If God is as so many say He is – big and holy – where does that leave me, but I am small and far from holy. That is what we feel deep down so often, because we are aware of our failures, and our inadequacy. The thing we said wrong or the thing, deep down, we know was wrong, those are the things that weigh heavily upon us. What does God think of me when He sees what I am like? So we blow it and get it completely wrong and the enemy whispers in our ear that that is the end, we are a write-off, there is no hope for us.
It is in these ways and in these times that this truth MUST come to the fore; it is at such times that I MUST rely upon God’s love. The alternative is to push my guilt into the back of my mind somewhere and pretend it is all right – but knowing that it isn’t. It is when we are being very human and getting it not perfect that this truth that John speaks here becomes all-important.
But perhaps we think more about how that works out, we need to consider the second of what I have described as THE most important statements in the Bible: “God is love.” I think this particular one is absolutely mind transforming, and yet for the vast majority of the earlier part of my Christian life it just remained as words, but please, think about this one as well. God IS love. This doesn’t mean that all love is God but it does mean that everything about God is an expression of love. This is so vital to understand that we need to put content to the word ‘love’ and reiterate the definition we’ve used previously of it: “selfless, sacrificial, unrestricted good-will towards all others.” Now this present verse means that everything God thinks and everything God says, and everything God does, is an expression of this selfless, sacrificial, unrestricted good-will towards all others – towards us. Everything! There is nothing about God that is excluded from this definition. Our task is to read the Bible in the light of this revelation and perhaps see it with new eyes and look behind the surface and ask, how is what I read here, how are these words of God, and how is this act of God, an expression of selfless, sacrificial, unrestricted good-will towards all others?
THAT is what we rely upon, is what John says in the first part of this verse above. Whatever I think, say or do, God looks upon me with unrestricted good-will. I’ve used that word or mini-phrase, ‘good-will’ because the word ‘love’ has been so abused over the years that we’ve lost it’s meaning but behind it is the sense of the intent of good-will towards another person. When we love someone we want the best for them, we want good for them – and that’s what God wants for us. That is what comes through the Bible again and again, whether it be the familiar word of the Lord from Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” (Jer 29:11) or the even more familiar words from the apostle Paul, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” (Rom 8:28) and the almost too familiar, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (Jn 3:16,17)
There it is, God’s intention toward us is good and that has been ultimately expressed in the giving of His Son for us. When I’ve got it wrong, or the world seems to be going badly, THIS is what we rely upon, for this is the truth that God IS love and God is FOR us. Hallelujah!