Today's Reading: 1 John 4:16-21
“We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
In the name of Jesus. Amen. God the Father created you out of love. He created you to love — Him and one another. He doesn’t need your love. He is God almighty! He needs nothing. But He chooses to love. He desires to love. He desires love!
God looks beyond Himself to give and give, even to those who don’t love Him. God rains down blessing upon the wicked. He gives them daily bread. He provides for their needs. For many, He graciously allows them to live comfortably in this life. But none of that compares to the way God loves the world in His Son Jesus!
God’s creative love for humankind won’t penetrate stubborn, sinful hearts, nor will the fact that He provides for the bodily needs of those who are either ignorant of him or who hate him. These are all good things. Thanks be to God that He lovingly provides for His creatures! But all the more, thanks be to God that He has provided the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the whole world — His Son. Only God’s love in Christ can burst through the obstinate hearts of stone — hearts that refuse to love God or one another, hearts that only love self.
It’s God’s love also that flows through you. In this part of his epistle, St. John talks about perfect love. Your Old Adam will never have perfect love. You and I, stubborn sinners, will oppose God and His will. We will hate our brothers. That’s our nature. But we know God’s love in Christ. You receive God’s love in Christ when you receive God’s gifts — His Baptism, His Absolution, His Supper. Abide in these gifts and you abide in God’s love. That changes everything!
The new man that you are in Jesus loves with a perfect love. Filled with God’s love in Christ, you have confidence on the Day of Judgment. God looks not upon your Old Adam, not upon your hatred or your selfish ambitions. God looks upon you and sees the perfect, self-sacrificing love of Christ. No fears! No judgments! Only the perfect love of God in Christ for all eternity. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
“O grant that nothing in my soul May dwell, but Thy pure love alone; Oh, may Thy love possess me whole, My joy, my treasure, and my crown! All coldness from my heart remove; My ev’ry act, word, thought be love.” (LSB 683:2)