As you know, our theme for 2018 is Love God. Love People. Change the World. That’s easy enough to say, and it’s so obviously taught in Scripture that none of us would argue against its importance. But still, this question remains: we want to do it, but where do we find the motivation? We want to love God, but how do we? We want to love people, but sometimes that’s really hard, so how can we?
In other words, how do we do what we know is right, especially when it’s hard? How do we become people who instinctively love God and the people he created?
We’re planning to return to our theme monthly and emphasize a different aspect. This Sunday we’re going to look at John’s thoughts near the end of 1 John, the letter that’s all about love: love for God, love for people, love for our spiritual siblings. In this text he particularly emphasizes where our love for God and people comes from.
The summary statement is near the end: “We love because he first loved us” (v. 19).
Why do we love God? Because he first loved us.
Why do we love people? Because we’ve experienced his love for us.
God loves us unconditionally, and he loved us even when we were living in a state of rebellion against him. In fact, there’s nothing we can do to make him love us any more or any less. That’s incredible to realize.
Only when we realize that—and truly believe it from the depths of our hearts—will we be freed to love as we should. We’ll experience a deep and abiding love for him, and our hearts will be open to love people—all people, even (especially) the ones who are hard to love.
How do we love? Why do we love? Because he first loved us, and because he expresses that love so clearly and beautifully in the gift of his Son.