Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God,

1 John 4: 7

 

On the surface of it this sounds like a rather simple idea for in the church we certainly do love each other. We are nice, pleasant, polite, and accepting of others. We are agreeable and let past wrongs be in the past, too. Yet, much of this nicety is located on the very outermost layer of skin that is truly on the surface. It has nothing to do with our hearts and our minds. While smiling and shaking hands in fellowship, frequently we are running a sort of continuous loop recording of our animosity, fear, distrust, and distaste for the very person we are embracing.

 

In fact, it seems to me that love is not polite. Love does not seek to charm and to ingratiate. Love does not let the sleeping dogs of hurts tendered and received just lie there sleeping. For, as we look at God’s approach to loving people, we can not help but see engagement. God is so involved with us that He came to live among us even after we had rebelled against that close relationship during its formative days. Jesus deliberately stepped into the middle of our world’s chaos and our personal messiness, and He brought truth, grace, mercy, and love to this world. Then, even as we murdered the Son of God, the Father granted us His continuing presence in the person of Christ’s Spirit. In all of this there is nothing but deep, real, and engaged love.

 

That is what the Apostle John is bringing to our attention. The ability to love from deep within while not compromising righteousness and truth comes from God. This is a love that does not hold onto the past but rather submits those hurts, pain, and fears to God and that seeks His wisdom in resolving them. This from of love is genuine. It honors our emotional responses to life as a gift from God while not allowing emotion to rule us and to disrupt our relationships. Loving as Christ does is risky in that it requires us to fully surrender ourselves to God and to submit to His will in areas of greatest personal vulnerability. Yet, it is genuine, deep-seated love that binds us together in the eternal family that is the Body of Christ.