“Good News For All The People”—Daily Reflections for Advent 2016
THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT, December 18th
So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is so 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 reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:16-19
Stop for a moment and think about God. What comes into your mind? What is God like for you? How do you perceive God to be? These are not idle, irrelevant thoughts; they are crucial to us. Pastor and theologian A. W. Tozer says of such thoughts:
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us…and the most portentous fact about any man [or woman] is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. (The Knowledge of the Holy)
In today’s Scripture, the apostle John tells us his consuming, controlling thought about God: “God is love.” Of all of God’s attributes John is most captivated by God’s love. It’s who God is. Love is not something that God does, but love is who God is. God’s love for us never starts or stops, because it just is. That means you cannot do anything to make God start loving you, because He has never stopped; it’s who He is. God can no more stop loving than He can stop being all-powerful or all-knowing. God loves you because of who He is, not because of who you are.
Now, as “we have known and believe the love God has for us,” the text calls for us to “abide” in God’s love, to make our home in it. God longs for us to settle into being infinitely, endlessly, unconditionally loved by Him. To know that God loves us in our weakness, forgives us our sin, and destines us for glory: this drives away any fear. His perfect love for us “casts out fear”.
John points out that fear is the characteristic emotion of people expecting to be punished: “for fear has to do with punishment, but who ever fears has not reached perfection in love.” But God’s love for us gives us confidence both now and when we meet Jesus (1 John 2:28). Theologian George Maloney writes of God longing for us to respond to such love:
God truly waits to be loved by us. Love can never be complete only in giving. It is not enough that God be the Lover. He needs to be called by us our ‘Beloved’…What awesome humility of God to love us and tie our happiness to His need for really receiving our love in return. (Called to Intimacy)
John says, “We love because he first loved us.” It is in knowing and believing the love the Father has for us that kindles our love for Him and for others. On a human level, see how the child who can give love is the child who has first received love. Our love grows from God’s love. Truly, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). It is believing the good news for all the people.
- Today’s text does not say that God has love, but that “God is love”. What does it mean to you that “God is love”?
- Theologian George Maloney says: “God truly waits to be loved by us.” What are your thoughts about the eternal, infinite God wanting to be loved by you? What are your feelings about that?