The apostle John referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” We know Jesus loved all His disciples, but John seemed to have a special ability to receive that love.
As an old man, writing his epistles, he still as convinced as ever of God’s love for us and, further, of our responsibility to love others as Jesus did. Here are a few quotes from 1 John that reveal John’s heart:
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (3:1a)
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” – (3:16)
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (4:7)
“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.” – (4:12)
He points out that we cannot see God. We know He is loving, but we never would have known what the love of God looks like if Jesus had not come. God the Son taught us how to relate to the Father and how to relate the Father’s love to others. John saw it firsthand and, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has shared it with us so we, too, can get a picture of the great, unending love of God.
John Owen says this of God’s love, mediated through Jesus: “He is the Lord, and He changes not; and, therefore, we are not consumed. Whom He loves, He loves to the end. His love is such as never had beginning, and never shall have ending.”
We fall far short of God’s command to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We want to love Him more, but don’t know how. The truth is only God can grow His kind of love in our hearts. We simply have to invite Him to do so. When we do, He responds. It works this way:
First, God is thrilled to hear from His children, so whenever we turn to Him, He responds.
Then, we begin to realize that His response is always loving.
His love feels so good, we can’t help loving Him in return.
And then, His love grows in us and spills over into our relationships with those around us – even those who may be hard to love.
Being loved and loving. It’s ours when we turn toward Him – always.
*John Owen, Communion with God (Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications), p. 110.