1 John 4:7-12 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”
In the 6 verses found above in 1 John 4, the word “love” is found 13 times. This is a simple and basic point, right? All we need is love. That’s what this is saying right? The hippie friends of the 60s would be so happy. The nation today is filled with people who are making the same statement. All we need is love! But, what does that even mean? What does it mean for us to love our neighbor as ourselves? All of this comes down to our ambiguous and subjective definitions of love.
The Urban Dictionary is a great place to go if you want to hear the culture’s definition of certain words. Any random person can submit their own definitions of a specific word. Here are a few definitions people have submitted for the word love: “The most spectacular, indescribable, deep euphoric feeling for someone… An inexplainable yet incredibly strong feeling for someone… Truly loving someone means that you care deeply about another person.”
The culture around us tells us to love others, which generally means to accept them for who they are whether you agree with them or not. To make them feel good. On one hand, accepting someone as they are is exactly what God does for sinners. He invites them to himself as they are: full of sin, in their brokenness. But, that isn’t where it stops. The good news of salvation is offered to all, yet the good news of salvation radically changes people. It changes their desires. It brings them in as they are, but then conforms them to the image of God’s Son. What people in this world do not often understand is that the most loving thing God can do is not just accept us for who we are, but it is to change us to be like Jesus.
What 1 John 4:7-12 tells us is that this world is full of love impostors. They advertise their acceptance of all and the need we have to love all people. But if we believe that God is love, and that the way God shows his love is through sending his only Son into the world so that we might live through him, then we are all a bunch of love impostors if our love doesn’t speak and show and draw people to Christ. Do not forget this eternally important truth. Loving people and not showing them Jesus is like raising children on candy. You feed them donuts for breakfast, some Skittles, soda, and Snickers for lunch, and then for dinner a bowl of Starburst mixed with Laffy Taffy (for chewy variety, of course!), and with cake and ice cream for dessert. Most kids would be in awe of a day like this.
Loving people without showing and speaking of Christ is like this. You’ll satisfy their temporary desires, but you’ll end up killing them in the process. Sure, they’ll feel temporarily loved, but they are actually being led astray thinking you really love them. You don’t love them truly, unless Christ is the end!