1 John 4: 7 – 12
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
It seems there always has to be some sort of rivalry when you have two stand out examples. When I was at school it was’ are you a Beatles fan OR a Rolling Stones fan?’ It never seemed to occur to anyone that you could actually appreciate the great music produced by both bands. In the mid-nineties I remember someone at Aberdeen University saying they could tell which school a boy went to in Aberdeen merely by seeing which hand held games consul they used.
No idea if that theory held water, but in the Divinity Common Room one day I recall a furious argument got up about whether Paul (in 1 Corinthians 13) or John (in 1 John 7) had the best encapsulated ‘what love is’ – and in those pre iPod days I had no way of playing Foreigner over the growing hub-bub.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter which if either of them has the better exposition. Paul’s account is great and so too is John as he explains here that love is of God, it is God’s greatest gift to us so much so that if we do not know love we cannot claim to know God and vice versa.
How do we know God exists when we cannot see him? Because we feel his love in our lives. So what is the only thing we can do with this proof of his existence? Love one another, unconditionally and freely just as God loves us.
The hymn says they will know we are Christians by our love, indeed, and let us show that love to all, for it is not ours to keep. Both Paul and John agree on that.
Lord God, our loving Father, you who are love, who created all from and by love, may we share your love, may we enjoy its reassuring warmth and spread that warmth throughout the World to the praise and glory of your name.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,