Daily Devotion Saturday, 16 December 2023

Saturday, 16 December 2023
 
1 John 4:16b-21

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.  Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us.  Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.  The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

Reflection

I have been present in some services of worship where the only quality attributed to God is love. While, with the author of the First Letter of John, I believe that God is indeed love; I think we are doing God a disservice if that is all we say about him. For instance, does the belief in God as fundamentally loving mean that God therefore never judges? What might this belief suggest about God’s attitude to sin and evil? Surely, if God is believed to be holy and righteous, God cannot abide the damage done by sin and the destructiveness wrought by evil?
    
I think an over-emphasis on God as love betrays our fear of being judged. This over-emphasis is not surprising, probably due to hurtful experiences of being on the receiving end of unfair judgement. However, the God of love is believed to judge differently. His righteousness is tempered by mercy. His holiness is tempered by grace. Rather than a God who never judges, what we want when we or others are treated unfairly is the help of God who judges justly and mercifully.
    
The author of our biblical passage brings out an important relationship between love and judgement and fear. “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (vv. 17-18). In committed relationships, the more two people love each other, the less they have to fear from each other, and the more they can be their bolder and better selves. It is similar with God and us. As we come to know God better in the Scriptures, in worship, in prayer, and in life, we come to love God’s nature and character and perfections. We begin to experience the perfect love that casts out fear. Consequently, we can be our bolder and better selves.

Prayer,

O God of loving judgement,
merciful righteousness, 
and gracious holiness.
You are the sum of all perfections,
the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Sender of the Holy Spirit,
and you count me as your beloved child.
Rooted in this love and assurance,
inspire me with the boldness I need today.
Amen

 

 

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Dr Julian Templeton, Training and Development Officer, Thames North Synod

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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