By Sherry Black
A Reading from 1 John 4:7-21
7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the savior of the world. 15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16 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. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 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. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 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. 21 The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
God has always taken the first step; God is a missionary God! Love is from God because God is love; and we recognize God’s love because God sent his Son Jesus into the world in order that we might live in love. It’s not our love for God that matters so much as the primacy of God’s love for us, seeking us, reaching for us, saving us. God, through Jesus, is the actor.
I’m not sure where this idea of the preeminence of God’s initiative is expressed better than in the words of one of my very favorite hymns, from The (Episcopal) Hymnal 1982, #689 (words anonymous).
I invite you to read these words slowly, thoughtfully, and reflectively.
I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek him, seeking me;
It was not I that found, O Savior true;
No, I was found of thee.
Thou didst reach forth thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm-vexed sea–
‘Twas not so much that I on thee took hold,
As thou, dear Lord, on me.
I find, I walk, I love, but O the whole
Of love is but my answer, Lord, to thee;
For thou wert long beforehand with my soul,
Always thou lovedst me.
The Very Rev. Sherry Black is a second-career Episcopal priest, and has been a full-time hospital chaplain for ten years. She also serves a small mission church as priest-in-charge, and is dean of her deanery.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
All Saints Church, Chevy Chase, Md.
The Diocese of Bolivia (Anglican Church of South America)