‘Without love, where would we be now?’ goes the old Dooby Brother’s song  I was listening to on the Johnny Walker sounds of the seventies program, on the way home from a snowy Sheffield, yesterday. This is a question answered by John, one of the first followers of Jesus. He goes on to answer perhaps a more pressing question for the Christian though, ‘because of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, what should we do now?’

My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love! 1 John 4:11-12 (The Message)

 The impact of God’s love for us in Jesus’ sacrifice is like a spiritual atomic explosion. It has the effect of devastating our world view, that we will in some way live up to God’s perfect law of love if we try hard enough, and puts us in the way of Jesus’ sacrificial love. Meeting God’s perfect standard set in Christ is not an option then and we realize that turning to God, with the desire to change our ways and live for Jesus, is what God requires.

 So, when we have turned to God and expressed our desire to follow Jesus what next? We do have choices to make. Either we can say that our personal faith is enough and rely on the grace of God to support our failure to meet God’s standard, or we can accept that only Jesus meets the standard of God’s perfect love. This means, either we try and struggle to become more like Jesus, or we let God have his way in our lives in order to achieve this. The more we hold onto our own will and expectations of God, the more frustrating the Christian life is. What John says to us is, ‘because we know the love God has for us shown in Jesus’ sacrifice, then we can rely on the presence of God ‘deeply’ in our lives if we love others with that same love.’ Becoming like Jesus takes us to let every part of our lives be filled with the love of God and expressed in love for others. Then, and only then, will the unseen God be seen. He will not be seen in individual’s alone though. No! it is in how the believers love one another and others that God is seen and experienced. As is so often said but sometimes not acted on, ‘Love is a verb’, it is a doing word.

God who is in your very substance perfect love, help us today to be filled with perfect love so that your presence will be known among us. Let the love that you have for all people in Jesus Christ be the love we live in today and so know your presence deeply in our lives. Amen.