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Believing God's Love

By Dennis Pollock


The apostle John has been called the "apostle of love." This man seemed to write more about love and emphasize love more than almost any of Jesus' other disciples. It would seem that in John's mind, you cannot separate Christianity from love. In this study, we will look at just a few of the things John said about this important topic. In the fourth chapter of John's first epistle, he writes: "And we have known and believed the love that God has for us." (John 4:16).


John assumes that this is true for all Christians: We have known and believed the love God has for us, His children. It is wonderful to love God, and this should be the case for all His children, but it is equally, if not more wonderful, to go through life with a conscious awareness that our Father in Heaven deeply loves and cares for us, not merely in some cosmic, generic sense, but in a deeply personal and individual sense.


John goes on to make an amazing declaration: "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16). I'm not sure any of us fully grasp the width and depth of that statement, but it is comforting to learn that God is love, He is all about love; love makes up the essence of His personality. We could, of course, say "God is holiness," and that would be true. The Heavenly beings proclaim "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty" day and night. But here John says: "God is love." If we miss the love aspect of God, we miss God. If we see God as a stern, demanding, disapproving, frowning, angry deity, without a trace of compassion, mercy, or tenderness, our conception of our Creator is deeply flawed.


Human Love


Singers love to sing about love. Most popular songs today, as well as those of 75 years ago, are all about romantic love. From "Shivers" by Ed Sheeran (2022) to Whitney Houston's "I will always love you" (1992) to "It's Been a Long, Long Time" by Harry James and Helen Forrest at the end of World War II. We love our love songs! And with good reason! The power and deep emotion of romantic love are unlike almost anything else we ever feel in this world.


The problem with this human love that men and women have for each other is that it often does not last, at least not without divine grace. The same couple who may be passionately telling each other how they will always love each other may be in the divorce courts well before a decade has passed, permanently cutting the bonds of matrimony with those terrible words "irreconcilable differences." Somehow, when they first fell in love, irreconcilable differences did not even occur to them, but now they are the defining words for a relationship that went from red-hot to ice-cold in a few years. One would suppose that romantic love ought to have a shelf-life of more than three to five years, but for many, it does not. And so, they divorce and try again, and if that marriage also fizzles in a few years, they may try again, or they simply decide that for the rest of their days, they will forego marriage altogether.


God's "Agape" Love


John, of course, is talking about a far deeper and infinitely more stable love that derives its energy and life from God Himself. It is unconditional love, and it thrives and prospers in good times and bad times, in youth and old age.


The good news for Christian couples is that they can have both types of love at work in their relationship. They will hopefully have romantic love and feel deeply for their partner most days, but even on those days when the well seems like it is starting to run dry, God's divine love holds them together and they find that as they abide in Jesus, the romantic love returns – again and again. They may not kiss as often in their sixties as they did in their early twenties, but they feel deeply for each other, and the flames of romantic love mingle and mix with the fires of God's love, and these together make for a lifetime relationship that is both satisfying and happy.


Philosophers and intellectuals have attempted to define love down through the ages, but I feel my own little Dennis Pollock's definition of love is as good as any of theirs. To me, love is wanting the best for somebody. You don't want bad for them, you don't want to see them experience misfortune and tragedy; you want the very best for them. If a husband loves his wife, he wants his wife happy, he wants her healthy, and he wants her to thrive in life, and he will do what he can to make this happen.


God is the ultimate expression of this. He looks down upon humanity, upon people from every nation and culture, and strongly desires their good. It is His great desire that the billions of people on earth that He has individually created, should thrive and be blessed, both in this life and in eternity. He wants the best for all of us, and that best starts with us being reconciled to Him. God wants every man, woman, and child on earth to know Him and become His children through faith in Jesus. The Bible says, "God our Savior… desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth," (1 Timothy 2:3-4). In another place, we read: "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise… but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9). God wants us all saved! He wants us to experience the best, and the best is that we might all know Christ and live forever with Him.


Even in This Life


And once we come into His family, He wants us blessed here on earth. He does not promise us a trouble-free life, but He guarantees to provide for our needs and says that if we seek first His kingdom, all physical needs will be added to us.


Again, to want good for someone is the essence of love, and anyone who feels this way is walking in love. When a new mom holds her baby in her arms, she looks down at that precious young boy or girl and desires nothing but good for them. She does not look at that baby, and say to herself, "I sure hope you grow up to have a miserable life. I hope as you become an adult, you have nothing but problems and worries, and are continually depressed and unhappy!" No, she looks at her infant and desires a happy, healthy, long, prosperous life. She wants good for her child, and likewise, God is the quintessential "good wanter." He wants good for everyone, but He is limited in so many cases by our unbelief and even rejection of Him and His Son Jesus Christ.


John goes on to declare: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…" This may seem kind of strange. We would normally think of love and hatred as opposites, but John seems to be saying that love and fear are antonyms. Perfect love throws fear out the door. John seems to be saying that if you really knew how much God loves you, you would not have to be afraid anymore. You don't have to be scared, saying to yourself, "I wonder if I'll have food to eat tomorrow. I wonder if I will lose my job soon. I wonder if my husband or my wife will leave me." We often worry about all the possible negative things that might happen in our lives and we forget that our lives are controlled by a God who loves us. This doesn't mean that we won't experience troubles, struggles, and pressure, but it does mean that our loving Father is going to take care of us, and we will never be left on our own.


Checking the Boxes


If we really "know and believe the love God has for us" we don't have to be fearful all the time. Perhaps what we need is a little questionnaire with three questions with boxes to either check or not check beside each question. The first question is: "Does God really love me?" Of course, the answer is yes, and we put a check in the box beside this question. Question number two is: "Is God able to take care of me?" Once again, we check the box. The Creator of the universe is more than able to deal with our puny problems. And the third question to be answered is: "Is God still on His throne?" Does He rule and reign over all the world, controlling the destinies of nations and little sparrows equally? Again, the answer is an unqualified "yes." And so we check the third box. When we look over our little questionnaire and see all the boxes checked, we know that everything is going to be just fine. We know and believe the love God has for us, and the greatest expression of that love is the death and resurrection of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.




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