“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (I John 4:7-8)
We have learned previously that there is one requirement to become born of God, to become a child of God, to become part of God’s family. And the requirement is this: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (I John 5:1).
Jesus reiterated this invitation to believe in Him many times in the gospels, including with a laser focus in the gospel of John. “He who believes is born again, is born to eternal life, is born of God” … is the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
So how do we look at our opening passage that seems to add another requirement. Does “everyone who loves is born of God” add loving others as a requirement to joining God’s family? The short answer is no.
The order of events and our connection to God as our Father are critical to understanding the flow of these verses.
Look at the last phrase of our passage. “God is love” is the most succinct description of God’s essence. Love is not one of God’s attributes. It is His identity. Love is God’s essence. Love describes who God is.
So with “God is love” as our starting point, let’s think through these verses in this order:
- Love is God’s essence.
- Because you are “born of God” (not by how well you love, but by your faith in Jesus), love is now your essence.
- When you express your essence, express the love of God to others, you are living out what is already true about you; that you know God and are born of God.
- Believers have the choice to NOT express their essence. When we do not love, we are not removed from God’s family. We are merely not showing in practice what is true about us in reality; that we know God and are born of God.
- The one who does not know God (i.e. is not born of God) does not have the essence of love to express.
- The highest practice of the essence of God’s love in us is to “love one another”.
Therefore, let us love one another. And the incredible beauty of it all is that by virtue of your new nature, your new Spirit, your new heart, your new power, and so much more, you have what it takes to love as God loves!