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Effective love requires action

By DALE BROWN

Love in action — 1 John 4:7-21

If the Apostle John is the one who wrote 1 John, he was near the end of his life when he pens the letter. Right from the start, when Jesus calls him from his fishing boat and he and his brother James leave their father Zebedee and follow Jesus, he has seen love. He’s seen Jesus, watched him heal, raise people from the dead, gather children to him, cast out demons and make bread and fishes multiply so people can be fed.

John learned what love means from the parables Jesus told them. He watched as Jesus was crucified on the cross, and even there reached out in love to his mother saying, “John is now your son. “

John saw love in action. 

After the resurrection and the ascension, John watched as the church grew. In Ephesus 60 years later, John has seen that church be church, warts and all, with dissensions and divisions, squabbles and disagreements. But even so he can say God is love because he has seen it. We know what love is because it was revealed to us. In this love, John says, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

John saw love in action in Jesus Christ and came to realize that Christ was God and now can come to the conclusion that God is love. But he doesn’t stop there. John says because God is love, we should love in love, we should love one another; that love God has for us needs to shine out from us. (v. 11) God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. (v.13) John goes on to say what love is not. Love is not fear, there is no fear in love. (v.18) As William Self has said, “Against the lovelessness of fear, John sets the fearlessness of love.”

An anonymous poem puts it this way:

What is love? It is silence — when your words would hurt.

It is patience — when your neighbor’s curt.

It is deafness — when a scandal flows.

It is thoughtfulness — for other’s woes.

It is promptness — when stern duty calls.

It is courage — when misfortune falls.   

What is love? God is love.

DALE BROWN was born and raised in India and Pakistan of Presbyterian missionaries. Rev. Brown is a former attorney and Air Force JAG who is the pastor of Cumberland and Guinea Presbyterian Churches. 

(Area pastors interested in submitting devotionals for publication are asked to email us at marge.swayne@farmvilleherald.com.)