The word ‘love’ is elasticised in modern use. ‘Love’ is sometimes applied to relationships and activities that are essentially self-indulgent, short-lived and calculating. In this use, the word ‘love’ has become a very cheap thing.
Again, ‘love’ is reduced to the purely romantic and the sexual in some circles. Here, it is thought impossible for people to love one another without romantic overtones. Of course, there is nothing wrong with romantic and sexual love within God’s design, but love’s meaning goes far wider.
In the Lord’s Supper today our vision of what love can be is lifted to the highest plane. If God is love (1 Jn 4:16) then we must look to God’s words and deeds to learn what love is.
Read these words slowly:
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. (1 Jn 4:9-10).
These words remind us of several things about love:
· Love is costly - for God gave his Son.
· Love benefits the other – for we gain life through God’s love.
· Love takes initiative – for God made the first move while we were still sinners.
· Love does not compromise holiness – for God’s love dealt with sin rather than surrendered to it.
As John goes on to say: Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 Jn 4:11). Love is one necessary condition of belonging to God. Love’s absence indicates that we do not really belong to God.
The love that took Jesus to the Cross is the motive and model for our love to another. We are to love others because we have been so loved by God. We are freed to love others because our deepest needs have been met in the Cross. We are to love others in the same way that God has loved us in Christ.
Lord, I thank you for the love of Jesus that is life for me. Help me to love you and to love my neighbour in the same way that I have been loved by you.