God is love.
That is good news because we need real love from God. Instead of defining God by our feelings, our emotions, our definition of love, we need to step back and let God define love.
But before we do that, I want to say one word about emotions. Emotions are natural. Jesus had emotions. Jesus was angry. Jesus was happy. Jesus was sad. Jesus wept. Jesus laughed. Jesus was afraid. Do not for a single minute let somebody tell you that your emotions are your problem. It is how we deal with our emotions that will make a difference. We can work on that. We cannot regulate our emotions but we can address our attitudes and actions.
Is somebody throwing the law in your face because you are experiencing emotions? Tell them to read more closely.
To Feel or Not to Feel? That is the Question.
We are told to be angry without sinning. We are told to want without coveting. We are told to desire without lusting. We can be sad without despairing. We can be afraid without running back to our medication. Do not let anybody smack you around- including yourself- for feelings. Jesus felt all the things we feel and yet was without sin.
But how did he do it? And how can we do it? How can we give space for our feelings without being controlled by them?
Let’s think about Jesus for a minute. He is about to be arrested. The next twelve hours will see him abandoned by his closest friends. It will see him beaten. It will see him crucified. It will see him finally abandoned by his Father. For the first time since before there was time God would be cut off from God. Jesus knew this was coming.
So he weeps in the garden. He sweats blood. He feels an incredible impulse to change the plan. Jesus. Re-evaluating the plan. If there is another way, lets do that. Jesus, who wasn’t even broken and flawed like we are, doesn’t want to go to the cross. But what does he say? Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.
And because those little words, the world is changed.
Jesus, facing the greatest of all possible sufferings, submits his will and life over to his Father, praying only for knowledge of his will and the power to carry that out.
And, come to think of it, that is exactly how God defines love for us. Jesus seeks the will of God for us- on our account. The cross was necessary because the Father loves us too much to let us call the shots. He loves us too much to let us make up our own definition of the word. So he defined it.
Look at verse 9. In this the love of God was made known among us, that God sent his only Son into the world. We know what love is because Jesus took on flesh. He lived among his creation. He sought out the will of God even for his enemies- which at one time or another included each of us. Jesus lived our life for us. That is how we know what love is. Jesus defined it by living for us- on our account.
Love Looks Like This:
Where we fail moment-to-moment to distinguish our emotions and reality, Jesus succeeded. Where we have held onto our own will, Jesus submitted his will over to the Father. Where we obey out of fear and duty, Jesus went to the cross willingly. Joyfully even. He was so convinced that his Father’s will was good that he went headlong into suffering and death for us.
John does not miss this either.
Look at verse 10. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. That word, “propitiation”, that means “substitute.” John is saying that Jesus is the means by which our sins are forgiven!
Love does not mean that we reached up to God but that he reached down to us. Here in Jesus we have seen what love means. Indisputably. Undeniably.
God is for us.