Second Reading: 1 John 4:7-10

God is Love

Popular Translation

7 Loved ones. We should love each other. After all, love is from God. And everyone who loves others comes from God and is close to God. 8 The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this way, God clearly show us his love in us. For, God sent his only Son into the world so we could live with him! 10 This is the way we find love. It's not because we love God. No, it's because God loved us first and sent his Son so our sins could be forgiven.

Literal Translation

7 Loved (ones), we should love each other because love is from God and everyone loving has been begotten by God and knows God. 8 The (one) not loving does not know God because God is love. 9 In this, the love of God is make clear in us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 Love is in this, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son (as) an expiation for our sins.

We continue on our study with the high point of 1 John 4. These few verses tied the notion of charity with God and his community. In essence, love defined the God we worship and the movement we align ourselves with. We worship the God of love and belong to the love community.

By defining God as the source of love, the author distanced himself from a spirituality of individual ecstacy. Other studies on 1 John have investigated the difference between the author's emphasis on charity and the escapism of the Gnostic mystics. Here, however, the author clearly pointed to the activity of love as the sign of God's love with us.

Notice this activity of love (mercy, compassion, empathy, personal involvement) defined the Christian view of God. The phrase "God is love" alone could miss the point. This phrase could be interpreted as a reduction of God's power to the transcendent euphoria of new love; we could be fooled into the notion that we can only touch God in such a ecstatic "rush." That was the furthest notion from the author's mind. He was not speaking of an ecstacy; he was speaking of a history. The birth, life, death, and resurrection of his Son was an act of love that defined God. And, how do we know this loving God? Not by our feelings alone. No, by what he has done for us!

God's "love" history sets the bar for us. We know God when we act as he would act. We do not know God when we act in selfish, even hateful ways. Remember, the author had an eye for evangelization. Our actions become invitations or impediments to the Christian community. Our God is a God of love only when we show that love to others.

How have you experienced God's love? How have others brought you that love? How can you pass God's love onto others this week?