Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God. He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love. By this was God’s love revealed in us, that God has sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, if God loved us in this way, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God remains in us, and his love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we remain in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him, and he in God. We know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. In this love has been made perfect among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, even so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love. We love Him, because he first loved us. -1 John 4:7-19 (WEB)
A rather disturbing question came to mind as I prayed during the communion service. As I thought about God’s love for us, I also thought, “Why do I love God?” Oh, it wasn’t really the question that was disturbing, but contemplating the answer certainly was.
Sure, the Apostle John says, “We love because He first loved us,” but is that the whole reason? Do I love God because He loves me, or is there more to it than that? Do I love God for my own selfish reasons? Do I love Him because of what He can give me? Do I love Him because I get to spend eternity with Him? Do I love God because only He can meet all my needs and make me happy?
If the answer is “yes” to those questions, then, in the paraphrased words of Isaiah, woe is me, and what a truly wretched person I am! I’m not sure I know the answer to those questions. I’m not sure I want to know.
What I do know is that I want the answer to be “no.” I want my love of God to spring forth from a heart so overflowing with gratitude that I can’t help but love my God.
We read in Genesis 1:27, “God created man in his own image. In God’s image he created him; male and female he created them” (WEB). In the verses right before John said, “We love Him, because He first loved us,” we twice read that God is love. Since God is love and God created man and woman in His image, surely that means we have within us an overwhelming capacity to love. That thought gives me hope that at the root of my love for God is not my own selfishness, but true love overflowing from both a grateful heart and a wellspring of love that God created within me!
O, Lord God, I cannot comprehend the enormity of Your love for all of mankind, Your love for me. Father, where there is selfishness within me, please remove it. I don’t want it. I want to be absolutely unselfish, like Your Son.
I don’t know the answers to all of my questions, but I know You do. You know why I love You. If my love is not from pure motives, if it is not from that wellspring of love You gave me, then please change me. Help me, Father, to love You purely and completely. Help me to love You for who You are, not for what You can do for me. Help me to love You because You are good, because You are love, because You are perfection, because You love me. Help me, Father. Give me a pure love that knows no selfishness.
I ask this in the name of the most unselfish being who has ever walked this earth since You stopped walking in the Garden of Eden, Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.