“See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children – and we are!” -1 John 3:1 (CSB)
Over the past two months, our student ministry has been walking through the book of 1 John. This book is often overlooked when it comes to our view of what real love is, especially in the world we live in today. What exactly is this love 1 John speaks about? What exactly does this love – that is so heavenly and so divine – do for us?
For many, especially students, it is hard to grasp that this Godly love is not simply a feeling we work to receive through a relationship or through romance. Rather, this divine love calls us to live a transformed life. Below, I’ve spelled out a few significant reminders of God’s love. Today, I hope this encourages you to live a life with a heart fully and completely transformed by the perfect love of God.
1. God’s love is perfect
“There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear…” -1 John 4:18 (CSB)
I always sought out perfection in elementary school, whether I recognized that or not, and in elementary school math, that wasn’t hard for me. Math was fun! I would gain enjoyment from completing all of my multiplication tables and getting that ‘100’ on the assignment. In my elementary school mind I had achieved perfection – the endgame. Perfection, which is not only something we cannot achieve – the endgame for some – is something God has always had and always is.
His love is perfect. It is as complex yet as simple as that. We cannot achieve perfection. Even those of us who claim “I love everybody,” cannot have a love that is so perfect. Even so, the things (and people) in this world that drive us so crazy or harm our attitude, cannot stand against the perfect love of God.
But even better than that, His love actually casts out fear. The things of the world that scare us, or simply make us worry, can be driven out by the perfect love of God. This verse explains why fear grips us so much, as well.
“…fear involves punishment.” -1 John 4:18 (CSB)
The difference between math in elementary school and math in high school is significant. It is a lot more complex, easier to mess up, and for me much more confusing. When I took a math test in high school, I would actually fear it – a long cry from my attitude towards math tests in elementary school. I feared getting a bad grade. Why did I fear this? Because fear has to do with punishment. I knew that if I consistently got 65s on my math tests, I would ultimately receive punishment.
That is one of the mesmerizing things about God’s love – it doesn’t instill fear in us – it instills a peace, because that fear has been driven away. Punishment no longer exists for us because of Christ!
2. God’s love shows that we belong to Him.
“Dear friends, we are God’s children now…” -1 John 3:2 (CSB)
God’s love is an other-worldly, divine, perfection. And that is the love that is displayed for us – His children.
One of the most gut-wrenching things to see in student ministry is when a student is struggling to find belonging in their life. Whether that is belonging in school, a friend group, or even in their own families, teenagers spend a lot of time growing up searching. We are all no different. We want to belong. We want to find meaning. We long to belong to someone or something.
Yet, our God’s love is so perfect, that it not only provides us with this meaning and purpose, but it also provides this supernatural love that brings us peace, joy, and a Heavenly Father to belong to. Church, may we rest daily in the simple truth that we are His – and we can have great joy in the love of God.
We receive this perfect love, but when we are saved, we also receive a family, the family of God. How great is that? That the love of God is not only perfect, it doesn’t just help provide meaning, but it actually gives us a family of believers to lean on and belong to! This is something to rejoice in.
3. God’s love is seen through action.
“If anyone has this world’s goods and sees a fellow believer in need but withholds compassion from him – how does God’s love reside in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth.” -1 John 3:17-18 (CSB)
Not only is living out our faith by way of our actions a command from Scripture, it is the proof that the Holy Spirit is working through us. This is incredibly important when it comes to our relationships with other believers, yes. But, even more than that – it is evidence of God working through us to those who don’t believe.
When there is a claim you don’t quite believe, maybe a news story without any sources, or an academic paper using Wikipedia for information – you naturally want reliable evidence to back up the claim. I often ask our students, if we are not practicing putting the love of God into action, what, then, truly makes us different from those who do not believe? God’s love in us is proof to those who might not believe. If we have this claim that Christians are different and are filled with a divine love, we should be displaying real proof by our actions, not a Wikipedia-esque mostly true love. May we strive to display proof of God’s love through our actions and not simply just in our words and speech.
As our student ministry has been walking through 1 John, it has convicted me to live out God’s love in a real and tangible way through my actions. May we treat God’s love as though it is perfect and share this love with others as though it has truly transformed our hearts. Oh, how great is the love of God.