Today’s reading in 1 John gives us (at least) four really important points that can shape our faith. Listen to what we are told in 1 John 4: 9-21:
7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 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. 10 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. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16 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. 17 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. 18 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. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 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. 21 The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
First, we see the phrase that defines what 1 John is all about. God is love. It is not that God loves. Love is not something that God “does.” Love is something that God “is.” He is love.
God loves you because that is simply who He is. He can do no other. Now yes, Scripture teaches us that another part of God’s nature is that He is Holy. That is the nature of who God is. He is love. And He is holy. Those two things are head together in a divine mystery that we don’t understand.
Know this, above all else. God loves you. He really does. That is who He is. He loves you. We are defined by that love. That is where our truest identity comes from. It comes from God’s love. Know that. Soak that in. Live fully into that. It is not love that we love God. It is love that God loves us.
Second, we see God loves us so much, that He sent His son to atone, to die for, to make right our sin. Yes. God loves us. But as we mentioned earlier, God is also holy. And sin cannot enter into His presence. So, how does God make that right? Our of His great love for us, He sends His son to die for our sins, so that we can be forgiven.
So it is not just that we are loved, but we are made right. You are loved, and you are forgiven.
Third, as forgiven, loved children, this is our mission. To love others, as we have been loved. See, God’s love must show itself in our lives as we seek to live out that love with each other. We are called to love one another as we are loved. That’s our calling and our mission.
And last, remember, remember, remember this. Don’t be afraid. Love does not exist in fear. Perfect love casts out all fear. You don’t have to be afraid of judgment. Of death. Of life. Of anything in the world. Perfect love casts out all fear.
You are loved. Perfectly. By a perfect God.
You don’t have to be afraid.