SCRIPTURE: 1 John 4:7-21
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: July 6th, 2015
Love is a highly touted word in modern times. The Beatles sing “All You Need is Love.” Antiwar activists tout: “Make love, not war.” Religious groups use the idea of “love” to promote inter-religious tolerance and common activities. A lot of good have come out of the desire to celebrate love. A lot of controversies have also risen.
One of the most contested topics is the area of same-sex marriage. It has divided Churches. It has polarized policy makers throughout the West. It has split families and defied long-held traditions. Last week, I wrote about the way we can respond to the June 26th, 2015 SCOTUS decision that effectively legalized same-sex marriage throughout the fifty United States. Hailed as a landmark decision, while many celebrated, equally many lamented on the state of society now. Marriage has been expanded beyond the conventional understanding of male-female union. Now, every sex can marry any sex. It makes a mockery out of the word “marriage” as understood in Ephesians 5:31. In a society that allows the freedom of religious beliefs, atheists, secularists, and non-Christians in general would assert that the Bible does not apply to them because they do not believe. Moreover, they would say that Christians have no right to impose their faiths on a secular society.
|Four Quadrants of Divine Love|
This week, I offer some reflections on 1 John 4:7-21, using what I call the “Four Quadrants of Divine Love.”
Quadrant 1 – Curtain Raiser (1 John 4:7)
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)
Quadrant 2 – Confession (1 John 4:15)
“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God.”
Confession is not about saying the sinner’s prayer. It is about living out the sinner’s prayer. It acknowledges that we are weak and powerless to help ourselves. This keeps us in a mood of repentance. It shows the awareness of our limited abilities, and that we need divine help. Out of this humble acknowledgment, we put aside arrogance and pride, to adopt a spirit of servanthood just like Jesus (Mark 10:45).
There are some Christians who claim that they are saved, but live as if they are entitled to something. When we confess Jesus as our Lord, Jesus must be Lord of all, otherwise He is not lord at all. Love is not an entitlement. It is a confession that only God can truly love, and we can only love truly when God is in us. That is what John is saying when he urges us to abide in Christ, and Christ to abide in us.
Quadrant 3 – Confidence (1 John 4:18)
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
- God’s act of creation is loving;
- God’s pattern is loving;
- God’s judgment is loving;
- God’s mercy is loving;
- God’s sacrifice is loving;
- God’s admonishment is loving.
- God’s _____ is loving.
That is because God is love. Being confident in God’s love, we can go forth to be confident in everything and anything we do, not limited by fear but driven by love.
Quadrant 4 – Commandment (1 John 4:19-21)
“We love because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he is a liar, for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” (1 John 4:19-21)
Knowing the reason for the commandment is also important. One of them is in knowing that obeying the commandments is for our ultimate good. Drivers on a busy expressway will feel safe when everyone keeps to their lanes and follows the rules when it comes to changing lanes. Reckless drivers who ignore the rules do not just risk causing accidents; they may also create a massive congestion if their careless driving results in a nasty pile up. People who beat the red light can kill other drivers and pedestrians.
When God commands us to love, it is essentially having the interests of the community at heart. That is the essence of rules, regulations, and commands.
May these four quadrants be another way to appreciate the rich teachings of 1 John 4.
THOUGHT: "The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell.
It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell
The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave his Son to win
His erring child he reconciled, and pardoned from his sin
O Love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure, the saints and angels' song." (Frederick Lehman)
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