For the world, love is more an ideal than a reality.
But the people of God have been empowered to bring the reality of heaven to earth.
Today, we are going to take a “Posture of Peace” by responding to the love of God.
Posture is a short, audible fist bump to remind you God is with you in everything. Together, we’re going to be emboldened to take a daily Posture of perfect peace.
So this week we’ve been talking about love, the love of God. And I encouraged you to receive the love of God, to rely on the love of God. And today, I wanna encourage you to respond to the love of God. We are back today in 1 John Chapter 4. This chapter is so rich. I encourage you to read the whole chapter in its entirety today. We’re gonna be reading portions of it together, starting in verses 7 through 11. And today I’m reading from The Passion translation. It says, “Those who are loved by God, let His love continually pour from you to one another because God is love. Everyone who loves is fathered by God and experiences a intimate knowledge of Him. The one who doesn’t love has yet to know God, for God is love. The light of God’s love shined within us when He sent His matchless Son into the world so that we might live through Him. This is love. He loved us long before we loved Him. It was His love, not ours. He proved it by sending His Son to be a pleasing sacrificial offering, to take away our sins.” Listen to this language. “Delightfully loved ones, if He loved us with such tremendous love, then loving one another should be our way of life.”
Now I said it before, if you’ve been a Christian for a while, you’ve probably, I mean well, you hopefully, have heard about the love of God, many times. Honestly, I think I’ve heard of it about it so many times that I had started taking it for granted. I didn’t even realize it. But I think that’s why the Holy Spirit has even recently, in His kindness, tapped me on the shoulder, and brought me back to this truth of God’s love so that I can plant myself here and soak it all up again. And with the Holy Spirit’s help, I’ve been practicing getting this truth about God’s love out of my head, and into my heart. So that it’s not just head knowledge, but it’s a truth that is informing my emotions and influencing my actions. It’s not just a truth that I know, but that I’m actively participating in. And John, 1 John Chapter 4 makes it very clear. This is a love that God initiated with us. I didn’t make it happen. You didn’t start it. We didn’t earn it. But we can respond to it. We are in a relationship with God that He initiated with us. How cool is that? And now we get to respond to it by receiving His love for us, loving Him in return, and loving everyone we encounter with His love. It flows to us. It flows in us, so that it can flow through us. Now this is not an easy practice, I won’t pretend that it is. Because it is so counter-culture to the world that we live in.
The world only knows imperfect forms of love. The world is only participating in and responding to imperfect forms of love. Now, I know this is an, a silly example but it’s a real life example that kinda just, you know, hits the nail on the head. We see people on social media all the time call for love and unity. It is a deep, I believe genuine desire of the hearts of all people, But then we see those same people moments later, turn and do something and say something very unloving with someone that they disagree with online. For the world, love is just an ideal, it’s not a reality. But for the people of the kingdom of God, like you and me, we have been empowered to bring the reality of heaven to earth. And I used to view that responsibility as almost in a militant mindset. Like it would only be achieved through grit and self-determination. But then I looked to the life of Jesus when He was here on earth and I realized, Jesus lived in total response to the Father’s love for Him. He knew that He knew that He knew, He was loved by the Father. He so deeply trusted that truth through temptation and testing and trials, through receiving accusations, being misunderstood. When He was misrepresented, left alone, left behind, He did not waver. He knew that the Father loved Him. And from that relationship with the Father flowed a genuine love for the people around Him and heaven, was brought to Earth.
You know, I used to get angry, be bitter, live in constant disappointment with this world and they’re inconsistent often, contradictory demonstrations of love. But I realized it’s because I wasn’t responding to the perfect love of the Father. I was just reacting to the imperfection of this world. And unfortunately, through my participation in that imperfect flow, in my obsession with it, really, I ended up looking more like the world than I looked like my heavenly Father. Because where we participate, we replicate. So, what does it look like to respond to God’s love? Well, another great chapter in the Bible, Galatians 5, Paul writes about the freedom that we have in Christ. And he talks about how there’s nothing gained by performing rituals. There’s no justification that comes from our own performance. All of that, comes through Christ. And in verse 6, he writes something very interesting. He says, “The only thing that counts is faith, expressing itself through love. A trust, demonstrated by love.”
So here’s the response that I’ve been practicing. Trusting God so completely, trusting in His perfect love for me so completely, that I do not feel threatened, diminished, or depleted, by the imperfection of this world. Instead, in the midst of the imperfection, I’m empowered and free to allow His love to float in me and through me. Paul writes later in chapter 5:13, he says, “Do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh. Rather serve one another humbly in love.” Going back to 1 John 4:19 it says this, “We love, because He first loved us.” Again, God initiated this, not us. It takes God to love God. It takes God to love others. His nature is becoming our nature as we receive and rely on and respond to His love. We look like Him more every day. And what happens in that transformation process of becoming more like Him, being made into His image and likeness, is the reality of 1 John 4:17, where it says, “As He is, so are we in this world.”