“CALLED TO LOVE”

1 John 4:7-11 "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that loves not knows not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 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. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."

This passage is all about the Christian's duty to love. John uses love as a test of genuine Christian faith. This is the point he makes in verse 7 by saying: “every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.” The problem is that many people claim to know God, even some Christians can claim to know God, but their actions show that they really don't.

In verse 1 John says that many will say that they know God, but they're liars. Those who truly know God are known by their love for one another. He says the reason that love is evidence that we're born of God is because love is the very nature of God.
VS 7: “for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God”
VS 8: “God is love.”

By saying “God is love”, John is saying that love is one of the main attributes of God. God is love, but not all love is God. Some people love evil and, of course, that’s not of God. The love John is talking about is “agape” love or divine love, a love that can only come from God Himself. It's a love that cares more about others than about self. It is John 3:16 love. Agape love is not human love. It is a love that surpasses our human ability. This kind of love is a unique thing. All people have some kind of love, but the love of God is unique to Him and to His children.

Romans 5:8 says that God demonstrates His love toward us “in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

This is how God showed His love for mankind, by sending Jesus to die on the Cross in our place. This is how God demonstrated His love to us all. God loved even His enemies and died for them too. This is the love of God. It's not a natural human love and that's why the loving nature of God must be born into His children.

God loves in a unique way and when you come to know Him then He says "Now I want you to go & love in this same way." What this means is that we must love others more than ourselves. We must put the needs of others above our own needs. We must think more highly of others than of ourselves. But this isn’t how we are in our human condition, is it? We’re not born loving like God loves.

Little children usually think of themselves first unless taught otherwise. Our sinful human nature is so evident in children. We never have to teach our children how to lie, steal or hit. We have to teach them to do what's right. This is because they have inherited their parent’s sinful human nature and hearts; we are all born without the “agape” love of God in our hearts.

Therefore, we must be born again in order to receive a new nature, which is the nature of God. This is the only way it is possible for us love like God. Consider the following true example of this love in action:

Corrie Ten Boom wrote on love and forgiveness:

“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.

“It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. ‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. …’
“The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947. People stood up in silence, in silence collected their wraps, in silence left the room.

“And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were! 
[Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent.]

“Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!’ And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?

“But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze. ‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’ No, he did not remember me.

‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’

And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking? It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’
 

I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. ‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’

For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then.”

(Excerpted from “I’m Still Learning to Forgive” by Corrie ten Boom.)

The forgiveness and love that Corrie was able to give her former tormentor was not a human love. It was "agape" love. We can't love others with the love of God unless we ourselves know and carry the love of God.

John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

BRATS, God loves you with selfless, sacrificial love and He wants to deposit that same love within all of us so that we can love others in the same way.

GO BLESS, BRATS!