the search for real love (1 John 4:9-10)

March 14th, 2024

9 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. 10 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 4:9-10

One of the dominant pursuits of our life is to find love and receive all of its benefits. It is the reason we desire to be in relationship with other people and not dwell on a distant island somewhere. We were designed by God to be relational creatures, created with a deep capacity for love. We long for it, we search for it, we intensely pursue it even if it brings upon disappointment and heartache. We believe that if we find it, there will be some sort of eternal satisfaction and purpose to our lives. However, I want us to see today that this search for real love was never meant to be found in any human person. Rather, this deep yearning for real love was meant to find its ultimate fulfillment in God. 

Let us draw our attention to the passage above. In verse 9, we firstly see a divine act initiated by the God of the universe. God has determined to display, or show, or present to us His own love. This is not something to take for granted or underestimate. It's as if the creator God knew that human beings on the earth are stuck in a constant craze of searching for love. More than that, He knew that the love we give each other is utterly broken and inferior to His own love. In this verse, God is not presenting to us some human version of love, He is displaying for us the reality of His own perfect love. We must pay attention to this one point. The Lord is drawing our attention to something greater and far beyond what our human minds could ever fathom. Our attention is being drawn away from earthly love and our gaze is being pulled higher and higher toward Himself.

What then is this real love that God is presenting? What is this grand display that is supposed to attract us and win our hearts? Verse 9 continues, "He sent His one and only son into the world that we might live through Him" . This is not the Lord putting on some sort of abstract performance of love so that we might be confused. His action of love is specific, detailed, and personal. He chose to send His own son into the world so that we might see with our own eyes the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). We have in Jesus a human person we can relate to! We can identify with Him. We can see Him. We can know Him. But yet, the son is not like any other human, He is also perfect. What is God saying to us? We must stop searching for perfect love through imperfect people. Perfect love can only be given to us through perfection; it can only come from God.

Jesus is the perfect image of love. God came to a world of broken and lost creatures. He came to a people that lived in constant opposition to His holiness and His commands. He came to a people who were His own enemies (Romans 5:8). In our constant pursuit of love, we have discounted and rejected Him time and time again. We have chosen to settle for empty and incomplete forms of love. We have broken the hearts of other people and continually give our hearts over to be broken as well. God steps into this dark, broken mess and shines a light on the perfection of Jesus. The cross is therefore the reminder that God decided not to terminate this world filled with evil and sin. Instead, He chose love and mercy. Even when we set Him aside in order to love ourselves, love our possessions and love our sin, His love was greater. This is real love: not that we ever knew how to find love or even love God, but that He showed us pure love in crucifying His only son to that cross.

Every day we have the opportunity to we receive in full the love God has lavished on us. Or, we may choose to abandon His offer to search for some other worldly kind of love. Examine your own heart today. What or who are you chasing to grant you what only God can give? What are you trying to force into the emptiness of your heart that only God can fill? There is no human, no place and no thing that could ever satisfy the deepest longings of your heart. Look to the cross, see your sins forgiven and find eternal life in heaven. Beyond that, see what great love the father has lavished on you, that you might be called a child of the living God (1 John 3:1).

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