“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:15, ESV) Love is one of those words that can become cliche to me. It shouldn’t, but it does. Of course I understand that loving others is important, so teach me something new that I don’t know yet. But some lessons I’m not ever meant to graduate from, and love is surely one of them. The Lord still finds new angles on the topic to show me. Three verses before the one listed above, John writes, “if we love one another, God abides in us.” The old algebra skill of solving simultaneous equations kicks in for me at this point because I see that loving each other leads to God abiding in us, but equally confessing Jesus is the Son of God leads to abiding in us. Therefore, a correlation exists between confessing Jesus is the Son of God and loving one another. If I take it further, I can also put the two verses together to see that loving one another leads to God abiding in me. Collating it all - confessing Jesus is the Son of God is equivalent to loving others, and the result of doing these is that mobius strip mystery of God abiding in me and me abiding in God. The practical implication, then, for purposes of this month’s theme of abiding in love, is rather anathema to the part of me that sometimes prefers faith to be a mystical, private thing. God is love, so abiding in love is abiding in God, but abiding in God is not, according to these verses, a meditative, restful reflection on him being the vine and me the branch or anything like that. Rather, loving one another is the pathway to abiding in God. Abiding in God/love appears to entail actively and intentionally loving those around me. There’s still space for retreat and solitude, but abiding is incomplete, if not actually meaningless, outside the context of relationship to other people that I am meant to love. After all, the whole point of Jesus’ true vine discourse was that abiding produces fruit in me, the branch, but the fruit is love, as Galatians 5 makes quite clear, so abiding enables me to love others, which is itself abiding in God. Crazy. Feeling dizzy like I used to after a big simultaneous equations problem. In Christ, Fred Swartz
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God." (1 John 4:7, ESV)
How have you experienced God’s love by loving other people?
When has a time of felt distance from God been linked to a lack of love for someone on your part?