1 John 4, Love the cosmic witness
1 John 4:7-12 assures us that that those who love God and neighbour know God and that those who don't love God and neighbour don't know him. John wasn't speaking of the warm fuzzies or honourable romance though God knows we could use a lot more of that in the world. No, he was speaking of the love witnessed to in the Christian faith though not well practiced in Christian lives.
Just so that there's no confusion about what he has in mind John says this in 1 John 4:9-11, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love…he sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." Then he says, "If God so loved us we also ought to love one another."
What the Christian's faith bears witness to is not a humane kindness or even a deep and loyal commitment that has its origin in humans—to deny that these exist outside the Christian community is silly. To deny that they too are the work of God is also silly—so a Christian would say. No, what the faith of Christians witnesses to, in their allegiance to and trust in Jesus Christ, is the love of God and however feebly they practice it, because they themselves are so schooled in sin, they bear witness to it as the hope of the world.
The call to love like God is personal, of course. Each one of those who is confronted by the Christ of the gospel is called to embrace the love God has shown in Jesus but while it is personal it is much more than that. When a Christian—who is part of the body of Christ—hears and responds in God's love he makes himself an ally of God's cosmic purpose! He becomes a supporter of God's redeeming agenda and since it is God's agenda, he loves in hope and assurance despite the world's chaos and its opposition to God.
Is it not time to take our eyes off our moral fine-tuning and our church growth programmes and put them on the world that God has so loved that he has given his Son to redeem it? God's love in a Christian speaks hope to the cosmos for it is that that transforms creation!
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.