Perfect Love

Think for a moment about someone that you can’t stand. Dare I say, someone you actually hate. It might be a family member, politician, celebrity, boss, neighbor…people do things that make you want as much distance from them as possible. Being in their presence makes your stomach churn. Hearing their voice makes you cringe. You get the idea. When your enemies and adversaries are loud and present, your feelings of revulsion and fear are often well-earned.

Now consider this. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

So what do we do with our hate?

1 John 4 (New Revised Standard Version)

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Can hate live in the same space as love? Does our enemy deserve our love, or is hate just a way of protecting ourselves against further harm?

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 

Here we have a clue about what to do when we truly hate someone. John makes the case that God is love, and love has been perfected among us so that we may have boldness on the day of judgement. And who is the judge? God. That assures us that our adversaries and enemies will answer for their actions against us before God’s judgement seat. Our boldness in love is a reprieve for us…we don’t have to judge, just love. And then let it go.

When we unpack our feelings about our enemies, we may discover that fear informs our reaction to them. We fear the power they have over our peace and our happiness. But perfect love casts out fear, which frees us up to allow God to be God. HE will hold your adversary accountable.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21 The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

This is a hard teaching, friends. But scripture is clear. Those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. So let God do the work of redemption, and in all things, just love…even your enemies.

Just Love by Abby Johnson

Driving out Fear

Are you a person with a great capacity to love? Do you believe that we are called to love one another? What does the Bible say about love?

1 John 4 may be the most love-saturated passage in the entire Bible. Take a look at this and see how many times the word “love” appears:

1 John 4 (Common English Bible)

Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love. This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. 10 This is love: it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins. 11 Dear friends, if God loved us this way, we also ought to love each other. 

Love is from God. If you don’t love, you don’t know God. The charge is so simple: if God loves us so much that he sacrificed his son for us, we ought to love each other in the same way.

12 No one has ever seen God. If we love each other, God remains in us and his love is made perfect in us. 13 This is how we know we remain in him and he remains in us, because he has given us a measure of his Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the savior of the world. 15 If any of us confess that Jesus is God’s Son, God remains in us and we remain in God. 16 We have known and have believed the love that God has for us.

So what do we make of “love” that abuses, shuns, or condemns? What evidence of love can be found in the person who refuses to accept the “other?” Where is love when judgment is being spewed?

God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them. 17 This is how love has been perfected in us, so that we can have confidence on the Judgment Day, because we are exactly the same as God is in this world. 

We will be judged by how we followed the commandment to love as God loves in this world. And God is the only one qualified to judge. He calls us to offer love to one another, not judgment. Perfect love is designed to drive out fear, even fear of people who are drastically different from us. If you claim to love God but hate a certain section of God’s people, you are a liar.

18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love because God first loved us. 

20 Those who say, “I love God” and hate their brothers or sisters are liars.

After all, those who don’t love their brothers or sisters whom they have seen can hardly love God whom they have not seen!21 This commandment we have from him: Those who claim to love God ought to love their brother and sister also.

Those who claim to love God have to love their brother and sister WITHOUT JUDGMENT. This is the Word of God for the people of God. If your response to this is “Yeah, but what about the people who….” then you have totally missed the point.

Hearts Over Atlanta by Kathy Schumacher