Going Deeper 04.29.2021

The second reading for the Fifth Sunday of Easter... 1 John 4:7-21

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: 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 atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 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 judgment, 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. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

John uses the Greek word for the highest form of love-- agape-- far more than any other New Testament writer.  For him, agape is at the very heart of the Biblical message.  This is the love which moved God to send His Son, the One so filled with love He was willing to lay down His life for others.  

Agape can perhaps be best understood as being a love which responds to the needs of others.  This love is outwardly focused and involves much more than the emotion of affection.  Agape moves the one who loves to sacrifice on behalf of the beloved.  

Perhaps one of the better ways to describe how this love works is to point to it as being contagious.  While sacrificially responding to the needs of others involves an act of the will, in its most healthy form agape is a response to unconditional love received from God which moves us to feel increasing compassion for others and moves us to respond to their needs... to love as we have been loved, to serve as we have been served.  As I like to say so often: loved people love people.

In tomorrow's Gospel reading we will hear Jesus, God-in-the-flesh, (in other words, love personified), guide us into how all of this works.  As Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, God love first flows to us, and then flows through us to others as we bear the highest fruit of all: love.

With You in His Love,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"