This week we are going to be looking at living a life of love through our identity as a child of God. One of the reasons I picked 1 John for us to study is that even through its convictions it paints a wonderful image of the identity of God and who he calls us to be. It is important to explore our identity as Children of God, once we accept that is who we are then that allows us to move away from a life of sin and darkness. Furthermore, it is through God’s unconditional love that we are able to love people and live in a way that we would have never expected. As always as I write this blog, I am learning right along side you, I am still learning what it means to abandon all the labels that I have and accept that I am a child of God in its fullness. God is good and gracious in all that we endeavour to learn and accept within our lives. For some it is easy to accept and for others it takes a long time. However, God is by your side and the spirit will direct his wisdom and love into your life.
Let’s begin in 1 John 3v1 which states ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’ I love how straightforward John writes this, there is no room for doubt, it is an absolute truth. When we choose to follow God’s commands and live our life for his kingdom, we are his children. This great gift of love is open to everyone who chooses to accept the gospel message and live for God. John finishes this statement with ‘The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.’ It clearly identifies that our life is meant to look different, it will probably look unbelievably odd to people who do not understand why we are living our life so differently. I think it also gives us hope that there is more purpose to life than the means that we see around us. One of the reasons our lives will be different is due to us not being attracted to sin anymore.
‘No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him’, (3v6). Sin becomes detestable the closer we walk with God because sin is self-seeking, it is us ultimately thinking that our needs come before anything else. It is self-indulgent because we want to have everything regardless of what it costs. Walking in faith with God, it begins to shift our whole perspective. The things that we use to believe gave us meaning and fulfilment, actually leave us feeling empty. We begin to learn that our fulfilment comes first and foremost from the Lord, all that we seek inevitably will be found within God’s presence. That is when we know within our life that there has been a shift. That we are not just saying phrases and giving a half-hearted response to our faith, rather we want it to be the entire thing that shapes who we are. That does not mean that we will not have passions for things other than God, it means that we will see it from a new perspective. One where our passions are fulfilling but we know that it does not give us fulfilment, that is only found in God. As John writes 3v9 ‘No one born of God will continue to sin because God’s seed remains in them, they cannot go on sinning because they have been born of God.’ It is not even that we will struggle to make that choice, whether to sin or not. When we let our lives be fully devoted we are led to a place where sin no longer has the control nor the power over us. Through our lives being devoted to God, it will enable us to see people and life in a loving and grace filled perspective.
1 John 4:19 ‘We loved because he first loved us’
We need to learn to love authentically, not with a half-hearted approach. Jesus teaches us to love so beautifully and wonderfully. He loved people regardless of the labels that had been put on them. While many were misunderstood, Jesus knew their heart.
Sometimes people will not always pleasant, that does not mean that we cannot love them. Being able to show grace when they are unlovable, is a beautiful gift. One of the Bible verses that shapes my faith is 1 John4v12 ‘No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.’ I was listening to Sadie Robertson’s latest podcast (which I highly recommend) they were talking about what we are commanded to do. It comes down to love God and love other people, everything else is just added on. This is why, Jesus said my yoke is easy and my burden is light. 1 John 4v16 emphasises the importance of love for being in communion with God. It does not talk about anything else, any other means that we must achieve. ‘And we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.’ It is wonderful that when we devote our life to God we can share with people the wonderful love that God lavishes on his people. His love is not because we read our Bible or hold an awesome prayer meeting. God loved us even before we knew he loved us. We are his children and he delights in us. Even those of us who feel our lives are so mundane, God wants to be part of that. Our circumstance may not be great, but God’s love can utterly change our perspective. When we allow God’s love to speak over our circumstance, it becomes his and it does not hold us like it use to. Love changes everything, we only have to be willing to receive it.
Love is not meant to be confusing at all, 1 Corinthians 13v4-8 addresses what love is. ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails’. For us, we may struggle with some of these attributes of love because the human love we have received has been broken. God does not call us to be able to love like this in our own strength, it comes when we stay in communion with him. Love becomes easier because we learn to love the way God does, that will again look odd to others. We will learn to love the outcast or still be able to love the one who has wronged us. It will be wonderful because it God’s presence becoming more present here on earth.
Our call is to no longer live in sin and darkness but choosing to live a life in the light with the freedom to learn to love abundantly as Jesus did. We are children of God, who are loved regardless of the faults that we have. We are not seen by our worldly labels but always by our heart. I pray as you continue to pursue God, that love will becomes one of your greatest attributes. That your workplace, university and home will know the presence of God through your devotion to him. Read through 1 John in its entirety as it does explore other themes. For now, these are the ones that I felt were important to highlight as we continue on our journey of faith.
‘By your spirit I will rise from the ashes of defeat, the resurrected King is resurrecting me.’ (Elevation worship, Resurrecting)
You are so loved, have a blessed week. Love Victoria. xx