Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.
1 John 4:7-21
Dear God, because of this chapter I always had the wrong image of John and his personality. I thought he was mild and gentle. I had this image of a sweet person following Jesus, learning from him and sharing your peace.
It was only after I had a focused look at the stories in the gospels that specifically mention John that I realized he was nothing if the sort. He tried to promote himself above the other disciples. When the Samaritans refused to let Jesus stay with them on the way to Jerusalem, he was the one who wanted to call down fire from heaven and literally burn all of them alive.
Seeing what he wrote here is a reminder that you are continually working on all of us. You worked on John a few days after the Samaritan scene as he secretly followed Jesus all of the way to the cross. You worked on him as he ran to the tomb on the Sunday after the crucifixion. You worked on him in Acts as he got to be part of starting the church and he watched Peter preach and heal the man by the fountain. You worked on him as he got to know people like Nicodemus. You worked on him after his brother, James, became the first of the apostles to be martyred. You melted his heart and moved it into this beautiful place of peace and love. He got to the point where he said, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?”
Father, my heart has a long way to go. So my prayer today is a chorus I prayed last week sometime: Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Break me, melt me, mold me, fill me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
In Jesus’s name I pray,