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What is Love? – I John 4 // by Jordan Wood

Love. The four letter word that is meant to be expressed as a deep form of affection, has been overused and misunderstood in our culture. When the month of February began, I felt hopeful for love. I mean, after all, February is the month that hosts the biggest love-centered holiday, Valentines Day. But the more I think about love, the more I’m surrounded by love, the more I’m hurt by love, I begin to wonder… what is love?

Growing up, I first experienced love through my parents. They loved me by cheering me on at dance competitions, showering me with gifts at Christmas and birthdays, and supporting me unconditionally.

As I grew older, I began to discover more of what a romantic love felt like. We all at some point fantasize The Notebook kind of love in movies where the guy writes you every day for a year, 365 letters, in hopes to rekindle love. We love our friends, love our careers, love our dogs, love our food, the list could go on and on, but can we really wrap our brains around what love is? I know I can’t.

There is no better place to look for answers than the Bible, and 1 John 4 breaks down the definition of love and what it means to love one another pretty simply. If we look at the passage 1 John 4: 7-12 we see that John is talking about God’s love and ours.


“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.”


John first tells us that love is from God. It is not from a romantic comedy, it is from the Father himself. It is important to recognize that God created love and He is love. When we fall into thinking that love is supposed to look a certain way, we need to remind ourselves of what exactly love looks like. John continues on to teach that love is God sending his ONE and only Son into the world to become human so that he could experience every struggle that I go through, yet only to overcome them perfectly by dying on the cross for my sins. When I think of the darkest times of my life, I think of how Jesus took those away on the cross for me, just so I could have a relationship with God forever. Now THAT is love.

Love is not only receiving this gift from God, but it is also giving it. John encourages us by reminding us that because God loves us so much, that he sent his one and only Son for us so that we could be reunited with him, and that is how we are to love one another.

Now, this is where I have my issue with love. If God pursued a love with me in such a sacrificial, deep way, how am I supposed to love everyone in that same way on my own? How am I supposed to love people that hurt me? How am I supposed to love people that are different than me? Well, John puts it very clearly in verse 12. Even though we don’t see God, we still love one another in the same way because God lives in me and his love is made complete in me. His love is made complete in ME. How cool is it that the King of the Universe’s love is made complete in my heart and yours and we have the power to share that with everyone around us.

Personally, I become numb to loving, because I overuse it in my life and sometimes not in a healthy way. When I soak up God’s love for me by spending time with him in the Word, worshipping, praying and engaging in healthy community, I get filled with his love again. That constant communion with Jesus is how we love those we don’t want to love. It’s how we love our significant others even when its hard, it’s how we love and serve our families, it’s how we love those who need it. This is how our world sees Jesus, when we love one another despite our differences.

Are you feeling numb to love or struggling to comprehend God’s love for you? I encourage you to pray through 1 John 4: 7-12 this week and really soak in God’s love for you by spending quality time with Him, so you can be filled up and made complete with God’s love, not only to heal your own heart but in order to love one another.

Featured image by Ivy Christina

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