Love and Service
God is Love (4:7-8)
• 1 John 4 is not only poetic, but it is a profound theological piece of work summarizing the heart of Christian faith. When John says, “God is love,” he reminds us that the nature of the gospel is relational. The restoration of relationship with God always leads to restoration with others, with the creation, and even with the self.
• Sin at its core has to do with a broken relationship with God that has led to fragmented and violent relationships between human beings.
• God’s purpose from the beginning has been to form a people who understand his love in such a way that they reflect that transforming love to those around them.
The Revelation of Love (4:9-10)
• God’s love has been revealed in many ways. The goodness of God’s creation is an expression of love. God’s rescuing of oppressed people reveals his love. God’s patience with his people’s disobedience demonstrates his love.
• But for John, the fullest revelation of God’s love is given to us in the Son. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are the ultimate revelation of the deep love of God for the world.
Revelation: Part 2 (4:11-12)
• Having been created in the “image of God” – as we come to know the God who is love we come to reflect that divine love to one another.
• God has created us in such a way that as we learn to love others, his presence, his character, and his nature is revealed in us.
• In the same way that Christ revealed the love of God, now we too must become the revelations of God’s loving character.
The Abiding Spirit (4:13-16)
• The perfecting of the divine image of love in our lives cannot be done through our own strength or initiative. God has given us the Spirit to empower his love to come alive in our hearts.
• The implication here is that as we come to know and abide in the depth of love that God has for us, that same love – empowered by the Spirit of God’s love – will overflow from us to others.
No Fear (4:17-18)
• Our boldness with God and before God comes from our understanding of his love.
• For John, we ultimately come to look like the God we believe in. If we believe that God is legalism, for example, then we will not only look like legalists, but we will also live as though our obedience to the law has the last word in our lives. If we believe that God is judgment, then we will not only become critical in our own character, but we will also live in fear of God’s judgment. But once we come to truly know God, we look like him and also cease to fear because, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear...”
Again, the Test of Love (4:19-21)
• Again and again John ends these small sections of teaching with an emphasis on love. You can’t love God and not love others.