Formations lesson for July 6: The Good Fight
June 20 2003 by Tommy Bratton , 1 John 4:7-21

Formations lesson for July 6: The Good Fight | Friday, June 20, 2003

Friday, June 20, 2003

Formations lesson for July 6: The Good Fight

By Tommy Bratton 1 John 4:7-21

The community of First John seems much like the church next door. I imagine that some of the faithful members of the church became a little too sure that they were always right. I would venture that some could talk about God's love, but had a tough time loving those around them. I bet that several even left the church. In general, it seems that the community was having a tough time getting along with one another and showing the love of God. When we read between the lines and wonder why the author of First John wrote these words, we may recognize struggles within ourselves that cause us to reexamine our love for God and one another.

Born of God John tells his readers that love comes from God (4:7) and that we love because God first shared unconditional love with us (4:19). Love is the central key to God's nature. It is revealed through the beauty of God's creation. It is unveiled through the wonder of worship. It is brought to light in God's mercy and compassion for those in need.

The ancient Greeks and Romans believed intelligence to be the central aspect of God's nature. To understand God, one must cultivate reason. For some today, our understanding of God is rooted in success. Do we have the best programs? How many are in our Sunday School? How much is our budget giving?

John contends that whoever is missing love cannot be said to know God correctly. All else is secondary, at best.

Revealed in Christ Because God loves, God initiates a love relationship with us. God's love is revealed to us by the sending of Jesus, the incarnation of His loving Word. We have failed to love as we should (4:1), but God's love is true and faithful. Love is a choice made by God. Love means that God is willing to give the best to teach us to love in return. Through Jesus, God imparts compassion and forgiveness that we might be compassionate and forgive.

We treat our children much the same way. As they grow, they make mistakes. Yet we are quick to forgive when they ask. They may turn away from us for a time, but our arms are open wide when they need a hug. We show them love in ways they do not know - providing them with food, a home, a church, and more. The love of a parent is willing to sacrifice anything.

Lived through Us As believers, we cannot just tell God that we love him; it must be shown through the way we love others. John explains that since God loves us, we ought to love others (4:11).

I think many Christians believe that they have only a finite amount of love, so they share their love only with those closest to them - a spouse, a child, a close friend. However, John tells us in verse 12 that if we love one another, God lives in us and God's love is perfected in us. When we abide in God, God's love overflows through us. When we hold back our love, we have only a little. Yet when we give away love, God consistently refills us with more. The truth is that the more we give, the more we have to give.

Speaking to the church, John says that we cannot hate our brother or sister and still say we love God. The way we treat others is the evidence of our commitment to God.

No Fear The Bible tells us to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and to love others as ourselves. Our innate desire is to live in loving relationship with all people. However, fear of rejection prevents us from loving openly and fully and from receiving the love for which our hearts long.

But John reminds us that God's perfect love casts out fear (4:18). We know that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:39). This confidence in God's love for us spurs us on to love others with compassion and boldness.

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6/20/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tommy Bratton , 1 John 4:7-21 | with 0 comments
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