See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. (1John 3:1)
During my recent holiday I was meditating on 1John and Jude. Sometimes when you read the Word a verse will jump up and grab you; sometimes it can be single word. As I read the verse above it was the first word that arrested my attention.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us...
What kind of love has the Father given to us? The visible kind! The kind that can be displayed and seen!
John doesn't say we should know the love of God theoretically, or read about it, or just feel it touching our emotions... he tells us to see it! The love of God is not an abstract concept, but something that has a visible expression. That is one of the main themes of this letter of John. He is telling the brothers what the love of God should look like.
I love the way the letter starts...
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life — the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us (1Jn 1:1-2)
Right from the beginning John frames his discourse, not on nebulous concepts, but on the tangible, visible realities of God's nature that had been made manifest to him.
God's love is visible, his life made manifest, primarily through the means that John is referring to here - through Jesus.
If we want to know what the Father is like, we have a perfect representation in the Son.
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. (Jn 14:18-19)
So if we want to see the love of God, the first place we need to look is at Jesus himself. For God so loved the world... and that love resulted in a visible expression - Jesus, who embodied and demonstrated the love of the Father.
It's interesting... Jesus has many names and titles in the Scriptures. The one most frequently used in connection with him is Christ - the anointed one. But there are two times when God the Father speaks directly, and audibly, from heaven concerning the Son; what title does he use?
And behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mt 3:17)
He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Mt 17:5)
The word used in the Scriptures for "the Beloved" is "o agapetos" - the Agape-One. Jesus was and is, the Agape-One, the perfect expression of God's covenant love. Not just because he was beloved, but because he made visible that same expression of love that is the very nature of God himself.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love [agape]. (1Jn 4:8)
Love is at the core of who God is. It is the expression of his nature. It is the motivating force behind all he does. Whenever God is made manifest it is always in the context of love. So when the Father describes the son, it seems even his status as the Anointed-One is subordinate to his ultimate expression as the Agape-One. His anointing is also on the basis of his love.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions. (Heb 1:9)
If the visible love of God is so crucial, so central, how does this effect how we seek to represent God to the world?
[More to follow...]