Why do the Flames exist? Part 3 – What does this passage mean for the Flames?
“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 (NIV)
This is the last talk in the series that we have been doing on 1 John 4:7-12; the bible passage we think captures well why the Flames exist, and why we do what we do. In the first week we talked about the way this passage tells us that God is love. His very nature is love. Love is defined by God. And last week we looked at how God showed that love to us; that he sent his one and only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins, that we might enjoy an eternal relationship with God. And today, to wrap this up, we are going to have a think about what this means for the Flames and somewhat answer the question of ‘why do the Flames exist’? This passage has three things to say on these questions, and more broadly, what the christian life should look like.
The first thing it has to say is that “since God so loved us [by sending Jesus to save us], we also ought to love one another”, vs. 11. Or in vs. 7; “let us love one another, for love comes from God.” It’s important to make a quick clarification here; the people referred to here as ‘us’ and ‘whoever’, is, I think, solely christians. If you have a bible handy, the main reason I think this is down in vs. 20; “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister [a fellow christian], is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen”. Therefore, in vs. 7 and 8 where they discuss the act of love as being a determinant of whether you know God, it is getting at the idea that the mark of a christian is whether they love others (specifically christians in this passage’s context, but bible-wide speaking, all people). That is to say, that if you know the love that God has shown to us, you will love others in return. As God’s nature is love, so, as christians, ought our nature to become love. What does that look like? Well if our nature is to be modelled on God’s nature, than our love should be modelled on the way he has loved us. God loves us by delighting in us, by pursuing relationship with us, by looking past our faults or appeal. God loves us self sacrificially and unconditionally, whilst also lovingly rebuking and teaching us. God’s love is self sacrificial and looks to comfort and support us. God’s love has forgiven us and given us life though his son, Jesus, like we talked about last week. And this is the second thing this passage highlights.
Verse 9 tells us that God showed his love among us by sending Jesus so that we might live through him. This was the ultimate act of love; God has given us eternal life through Christ. As christians therefore, we should be living as those who have taken hold of this incredible gift. We ought to be allowing this biblical truth to sit with us, to be allowing it to work in us and change us. But, hugely importantly, is that we should be encouraging one another with this. Reminding each other of the loving God we know and the riches he has given us. Pointing each other to Jesus on the cross and the eternal relationship that has allowed with God.
Because, and this is the last of the three things, vs 12 tells us that “if we love one another, God lives in us and God’s love is made complete in us.” Now I have to be honest, I can’t say with certainty that I know exactly what John is getting at here; it’s classic John-style, elevatory language. But when we let the rest of biblical knowledge inform how we read this, we get the picture that we are both the entire goal of God’s love and the means by which he shows this love to others. His love reaches its fulfilment when we, filled with his love, love other people.
How do we do all this at the Flames? How should we be loving other people? Community. The Flames is all about community. If we are to take seriously the call to love one another and allow ourselves to be transformed so that our nature reflects the nature of God, then we also ought to be doing the things this passage talks about. We ought to be encouraging each in the knowledge that our God loves us and has saved us through his son for an eternity with him. And this should also shape the way we practically do community. Within community we can genuinely care for each other like God has cared for us. Within community we can intentionally seek each other out and pursue relationships with each other like our God has pursued us. Within community we can just enjoy one another’s company and the fun of playing sport in the same way that our God delights in us. And most importantly, within community, we love in the most complete sense, by sharing of the ultimate love that God showed us by sending his son to die
What is the challenge that comes out of all of this? If you are a christian, are you loving the Flames community in the same way God has shown his love to us? How can we be refining this within the Flames? And if you aren’t a christian, my challenge to you is just to consider if you think there is anything different about the Flames community. And if you think there is, to go one more step and consider that it is because of the love that God has shown us.
Joe Hockey, club chaplain
first published 21-4-2018