Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Loving God and People

"If anyone says, I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." - 1 John 4:20-21 ESV

This is a very specific dynamic. This verse refutes any concept that separates the sacred from the mundane in relationships. Impersonal relationships cause an exclusivity that reveals carnality. We can not love God when we do not love our brother. That is a straightforward.

We also can not love our brother when we do not love God.

"The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." - Mark 12:31 ESV

The command is second in priority and in logical progression. Loving God must precede loving people or the love has no foundation.

The interesting thing is the dynamic for loving God and people is very different.

"So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us." - 1 John 4:16-19 ESV

Our love for God is really a response to His love. We can not see the dynamic but I imagine that the love He pours on us must be huge in quantity in comparison to what He receives back. It must be like washing a very dirty car every day. Lots of muddy water down the drain.

We had no capacity to love Him other than in some sentimental or broken way before He loved a capacity for love into us. We receive God's love then give His love back to Him. It is reciprocal.

This is not always the case with people... as a matter of fact if you have a reciprocal love relationship with people then you are a very very blessed person. Most people have very few true friends that love them that way.

What 1 John teaches me this morning is that we bring this reciprocal flow between us and God into our relationship with people. We extend the flow. We love from an overflow.

"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'"" - John 7:38 ESV

Yes. That river must be extended to people without condition. People may not respond or they may respond negatively. Our brother may never respond and if in the rare case they extend mercy or grace to us first in a situation that is a blessing but never an expectation.

Loving God includes loving people and a life of loving people always produces unexpected blessings down the road.

Love has it's own reward


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