Why has God put in our hearts this need to be loved? We all seem to have this human trait in common if we take the time to get in touch with our emotions. Physiologists have found that infants which are not held and loved, but otherwise have their physical needs met, will eventually die. Then I would ask this… Is the need to love as strong in any of us as the need to be loved? Between these two longings seems to be a large chasm fixed. Why this deficit? Doesn’t it stand to reason that God created man with as great a capacity to love as he has to be loved? As I look at the scriptures it seems that God has both of these qualities equally. He speaks of Israel as His longed-for bride in the Old Covenant and in the New He speaks of the church as the bride of Christ. He longs for our devotion and love as well as defining Himself as Love. This deficit to love is at the root of the damage that came upon mankind when Adam and Eve fell. When they sought to be made “wise” without Him, they became self-centered and cold.
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. (1 John 4:7-8 KJ2000)
Here we are commanded to love, but there is no command to be loved is there? No, the longing to be loved is innate in us and God put it there for God IS love. What a bold statement! But even bolder is the command written here to love one another, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God.” Do we really love one another, my fellow saints? Do we love one another the way God loves us? Isn’t this what John is saying, “Everyone that loves is born of God” Do we really live as if He IS our Father, living by the same attributes?
I recently wrote the following in a letter to a dear friend in Christ, “Is love just a game? Is it some kind of sport where we maneuver with one another, each one trying to get into a position so that the other one needs us but we maintain control so we don’t need them? As I look around at all the relationships I have seen, it really seems to be the case. How often have you ever seen a married couple that both NEEDED each other the same amount with the same intense love? Or is it that I have come from such a dysfunctional family background that I perceive relationships this way?”
How often in the relationship between two people do you see a mutually in-depth love for one another? Isn’t it almost always lopsided? Today I see so many marriages where one person loves the other and the other one seems indifferent and self-centered. There are many unequally yoke couples in Christendom today. The ones who have truly given themselves to one another spirit, soul and body in complete unity, the unity that the Father has with the Son are rare indeed. Yet, isn’t it something we all long for who are IN Christ? Grant it, not all are really IN Christ among even those who call themselves “Christian,” yet is not this the very gauge that John has put forth in the above quoted passage? If this malady is true of husband and wife relationships in the church, how much more is it true of the relationships that members of Christ’s body have with one another who are not so closely bound? I can’t get away from Jesus last will and testament:
That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me. (John 17:21-23 KJ2000)
Christian unity, even marital unity and love for one another are bound together. John goes on to write,
And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him. In this is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. (1 John 4:16-17 KJ2000)
Can you see how these two verses here tie right in with Jesus’ final prayer? “He that dwells in love dwells in God and God in him.” Coupled with, “I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one…” How many of us really dwell in love and unity? Don’t most of us spend our waking hours dwelling on our own needs and desires? Yet in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 is this an attribute of the love of God? Here Paul wrote, “Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…” Is God really dwelling in us as we spend the day focused on our wants and desires? If so He must be pushed into a back room closet.
“He that dwells in love, dwells in God and God in him.” Do we so dwell in the love of God that we are made perfect by His indwelling power of love in us? Are we made perfect in love? And if not will we have boldness on that judgment day? John seems to tie the love of God in with boldness as well for he continues to say,
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:18-19 RSVA)
We love because He first loved us. His love for us and in us has enabled us to love as He does, also. Fear has torment, yet if we are dwelling in the love of our Father, if we really know HIM as the one who loves us so, we will have no fear from Him or anyone else for that matter. Love does that! It makes you bold. Bold enough to love others as God loves you without fear. How many of us love this way? Aren’t we afraid to be vulnerable with one another and as a result aren’t we really afraid to love for fear of being dumped or fear that if we share our most intimate secrets with a person they will not love us anymore or worse yet, blab them to others whom we do not trust?
Aren’t most of us afraid to let our real emotions show for fear of criticism or being crushed? So there we go living life wanting to be loved by others, yet afraid to let them know it? You see, for real love to work it requires great vulnerability and many opportunities to be wounded. This is why John inserts here the fact that perfect love casts out fear. We must be so moved by the love of our Father that we can openly communicate His love to others and be willing to keep loving them even when that love is not reciprocated. This is the kind of love that Jesus had for those who killed Him, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Matthew 23:37 RSVA).
It is said that the apostle John whom we quote, was the longest living of all the apostles and as such he was the last one living that had seen and lived with Jesus Christ. They would bring him into a gathering of saints on a stretcher and they would wait to see what this old saint would have to say to them and he would rise up on one elbow and say, “Little children, it is enough that you love one another.”
So, dear saints, I pray that we might all be so changed by the love of our Father that we become instruments of His love to others regardless of how they do or do not receive us. “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” THIS is the way God loves and it is here that we will manifest whether we are truly mature in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another. (John 13:34-35 KJ2000)