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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Today’s Reading | 1 John 4:7–21

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 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. 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. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 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. 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. 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. We love because he first loved us. 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. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. (NRSV)

God is not an idea. God is not the words we use to talk about God. God is not the words the Bible uses to talk about God. Ultimately, all of the words we use to describe God are metaphors, incomplete and provisional.

The one proposition about God that I turn to the most is the one found in today’s passage: “God is love.” God is the love that we share with each other, the love that binds us together in a complex network of life. God is the ground of being in which we live, move, and exist. I know it’s not very Reformed of me, but I don’t necessarily think of God as the cause of things that happen in the world. Rather, I experience God in shared love that longs for wholeness and peace in the fractures of our lives and in the world.

In Jesus, the love of God was revealed in a unique and remarkable way. He lived a selfless life, giving himself in service to others, even to the point of death. He taught and demonstrated a radically different vision of the way the world should be, what he called God’s kingdom. He was put to death when this vision threatened the political and religious powers of his day. But in this season of Easter, our hope in his resurrection assures us that nothing—no tragedy, no mistake, no sin, no evil—is beyond the redemptive power of God’s love. God invites each of us to be born anew in the light of God’s love

Gracious God, help me to recognize you in the love that surrounds us and binds us together. May our love for each other multiply and fill the world with your presence. Amen.

Written by John W. Vest, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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