In 1984 Foreigner sang, "I Want to Know What Love Is." Lou Gramm sang the line, "I want to know what love is, I want you to show me." Love is a feeling, a concept, an action that poets, songwriters, philosophers and Hallmark card writers have struggled to define for centuries.
In 1 John the Apostle writes, "God is love." Notice he didn't say, "love is God" but rather "God is love." This means, in part, that not every feeling or notion that we might label as love is love or is who God is. What it does mean is that who God is is the very definition of love. A. W. Tozer explains in The Knowledge of the Holy in the chapter on God's faithfulness that God is perfectly every one of His attributes all the time. This means that God is love in everything He does, even in judgement.
So, God is love. This, in part, means in order to love accurately I must discover who He is and what He says love is. Let's look at part of 1 John chapter 4, a chapter that John could have gotten some high quality tweets out of, to see something that the Scripture says love is.
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 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: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us." 1 John 4:7-12
Let's look at one thing love is from this passage.
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:10
"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
The Apostles John and Paul define love as what God did we He sent Jesus to die for us and Paul says that love is demonstrated in Christ dying for us while we were still sinners. God didn't wait for us to be receptive to His message in order to love us. He didn't wait to love until He saw we were ready to love Him. No, Jesus showed us the greatest love, the love that lays down His life for His friends, while we were God's enemies (Romans 5:10). God initiated love to those who never would have made the first move.
God is love and love is so much more than an initiator, but this one aspect of love stood out to me this week.
"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." 1 John 4:11
God loves us so we love God, right? Well, yes; but all over the New Testament we see that God loves and serves us so we love and serve others.
So, what does this mean for us today?
I think it means that we must be initiators of sacrificial love. God lives in us and His love is made complete in us when we love, so our love must look a lot like His love. Who in your life are you waiting to make the first move? With whom do you need to reconcile? Who do you see that is in need? Don't wait for them to make the first move, because love initiates and if Christ lives in you then you are able to love first as He loved first.
How many relationships sour because we wait for them to make the first move? How many hurting people continue to hurt because we wait for them to ask for help?
Think of those you can and should initiate love toward today. Perhaps it's a coworker, neighbor, former friend, or spouse. Whoever it is, we are called to love because God is love. Sometimes difficult people are put in our life to give us assurance of faith or to give us an unmistakable warning.
"We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, who he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother." 1 John 4:19-21
Love initiates. Make the first move in demonstrating true love today.