Tuesday, October 16, 2012

1 John 4

We are in Kampala today – and doing whatever else needs to be done

The essence of Christianity is the person of Jesus. Core (mere? Essential? Orthodox?) Christianity has at its heart the birth and life of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus came in the flesh. Core Christianity teaches that Jesus died on the cross and after three days was resurrected from death (restored to life). Denying any of these things leaves Christianity as it has been handed down to us from the first century forward. This is why John says “every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God” and every spirit that denies this is not from God.

One of the more quoted and usually misunderstood passages follows in 4:7-12. John says “God is love”. What he does not say is “love is God.” Nor does he say that love is a particular feeling or emotion. The Bible is consistent in its Greek that God is Agape’. That is God’s nature is manifested in a love that gives. If we love we live in that life of giving. God’s love is shown in that he “gave his only begotten son (John 3:16).”

Notice, also, that it is not “we love God” that matters. What matters is that God loves us. Our primary purpose on this planet is not that we would love God (although that is important). Our primary purpose on this planet is that we would be the object of God’s love. God is love and that love gives. Notice, however, that is not just a vertical relationship – 4:20 – “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 who they have not seen.” It is always lived out in community.

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