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A Living Definition of Love
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born or God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” I John 4:7-8
God is love. No other definition of God comes closer than this one to define his nature. This being so, we must recognize that our definition of love is what makes this statement meaningful or meaningless.
To many people love is whatever we want it to mean. It can be to some that one who loves never imposes restrictions on the beloved. However, a love that places no restrictions or boundaries is really a form of disrespect for the beloved. This is a world of dangers. The greatest danger that faces us is the danger of what we do to ourselves if left to follow the course of our appetites and desires. We all know of the human wreckage of those who lived this way. And we ask, when they fall, why didn’t someone who cared stop them?
God’s love for us includes watching over us: warning us of the boundaries to danger; giving us commandments for life; allowing us to suffer the affliction of the choice of our deviations from the path of life; and forgiving us when we fail. God’s love is active: he gives us choice to resist danger; power to live according to his commandments; healing in our afflictions; and grace to overcome our innate weaknesses. Because God loves us he has not left us alone without protection and a guide.
God’s love, as John goes on to comment, is revealed in Jesus his son who lived love among us. We see him caring most tenderly to the victims of overt self-destruction and sin. He reached out to those wounded by the ravages of disease and nature. He raised a voice against the exploiters who ruined the weak. He warned those hurling themselves into self-destruction and gave them a direction and purpose for their lives. He gave hope to those crushed and defeated. He confronted those who haughtily and vainly thought of themselves as invincible. He gave us of His spirit that we might live through Him. He made of himself “an atoning sacrifice for our sins” that we would not perish in our ignorance and vanity. (vs 10)
Because God loved us in such a way John says, “…we ought to love one another.” When we think about it, such love is a sacrifice of ourselves in ordinary and daily relationships. Such a love is more than a hug; more than a prayer; greater than a charitable gift; and certainly more than feeling comfortable and making others feel the same. It is sensitivity to the need and willingness to do whatever it takes to rescue and redeem them including the soft and hard thing.