1 John 4:16-18 “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.
When John speaks of love being “made complete” among us, he is not suggesting that God’s love itself was ever missing anything. Remember that God’s unconditional love for us is more than a feeling. It is love that always moves him to action. It is a love that gives: gives us life, gives us his Son, gives us faith, gives us his Spirit, gives us forgiveness, gives us strength for the day. His love is “made complete” when it reaches its goal of giving us all his gifts.
God’s love hasn’t given us everything it wants to give us until it has made us confident Judgment Day means only life and heaven for us. In this way love is made complete among us. Then God’s love has given us every gift that it has to give. Then we are confident the only things we will hear from him in the end are words like, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”
But how can we be so sure? John says, “…because in this world, we are like him.” We are like him? Are you or I really much like Jesus in this world? How much time did Jesus spend trying to make his life comfortable in this world? I don’t recall anything in the gospels about Jesus saving up to buy himself something he just had to have or spending hours deciding how he was going to decorate the living room, not that these things are wrong in and of themselves. But for Jesus, there didn’t seem to be much time for that. I don’t see Jesus getting angry about the lack of decent service at one of the inns in which he ate or slept. Honestly, can you see him complaining about the food? I don’t see Jesus debating whether or not he should stop to help someone, neglecting prayer because he was too busy or too tired, holding grudges and refusing to try to get along with irritating people. If our confidence on Judgment Day is based upon our lives looking like Jesus’ life, then the only thing we could be confident of is hell.
If that is our fear, then we have missed John’s point when he says, “Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him.” Living in God’s love means that God’s love is our home. We live under its shelter. We look like Jesus to God in this world not because we have improved to the point of perfection. Our perfection is this: for Jesus’ sake God has forgiven all our sins. He has graciously given us credit for the kind and loving way Jesus treated others. In this way, Jesus’ life of love is our own life of love. This is how John can say, “…in this world we are like him.” By faith Jesus’ life and death have become our own.
God’s love is beautiful place to live, and a sure promise for the life to come.