1 John 4:9-10 “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.”
Blind men don’t make good seekers. When an entire world of spiritually blind men gropes around looking for God, they think they find him in wood and stone, or perhaps in careers and bank accounts. Most deceiving of all, they imagine they have found him in the experiences, emotions and thoughts of their own hearts.
You can’t find God’s love in those places. That is why God didn’t leave us to go roaming around his creation looking for him. He doesn’t ask us to search for him in our own hearts. Do you want to know God? He doesn’t expect you to find him. You never would. He demonstrates his love by coming to us and living with us himself in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was truly Immanuel–God with us. The better we know Jesus, the better we know God, and the better we know his love.
Don’t misunderstand the Apostle’s message here. Jesus is a great example of how to live a life of love, but that is not the point in these verses. Jesus is first and foremost the way in which God has shown his love to us. Let us love one another, yes, but that doesn’t happen until we understand his love for us. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
In his Son Jesus Christ, our God has so loved us that he has given up his own life as a sacrifice, a payment, for our sins, so that we might be forgiven. That is love, not just to imitate, but to appreciate and to appropriate–love that has made you its object, love that claims you as God’s very own.
Does this help us understand why your pastor continues to urge on you the forgiveness of sins and the cross of Jesus Christ from the pulpit week in and week out? God’s “I forgive you” is his “I love you.” We preach it so that you will have the faith to live forever, but also because it gives you the love to live right now.
Perhaps you remember the sinful woman who came to anoint Jesus’ feet with her tears at the house of Simon the Pharisee. Simon sneered that Jesus would tolerate this from such a sinful woman. Jesus understood Simon’s thoughts, so he told Simon a parable. Two men owed their master a debt. One owed a very large sum, the other a relatively small sum. The master forgave them both. “Now,” Jesus said, “Which one will love his master more?” “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt,” Simon replied.
Jesus applied this to the woman’s love for him. Why did she love Jesus so much? Because she had been forgiven much. But the one who has been forgiven little, loves little.
Like that woman, as we grow in understanding the size of our debt in sin, as we see God demonstrate the greater size of his forgiveness, we will overflow with love–not just love for Jesus, but love for one another, too.