“No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” ~ 1 John 4:12
Sometimes you have to look at a familiar thing in an unfamiliar way.
It’s funny how our brains can become so used to hearing mind-blowing truths, that we lose the impact God’s Word can have on our entire reality.
So let’s change things up and try something a little different for this post.
We’re going to pick apart this verse, backwards.
The Result: “His love, is perfected in us…”
God [the creator of the Cosmos, creator of you and me] promises that His affection [goodwill, benevolence] is, at this moment, being perfected (literally, “adding what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full”) within each of His children. We’ll flesh out more of what this means in the following sections.
The Key: “And God dwelleth in us…”
God’s love, at THIS moment, is being activated and filling who we are on a continual basis. But there’s more. God says He will actually dwell in us. To dwell means “to tarry, to continue to be present.” This looks like the God of the universe maxing out the gaps in our lives with power and love that is unconstrained and unconditional. This is the essence of forgiveness, grace, hope, and ultimate transformation.
Take a moment to consider what this means for your entire existence.
What does this mean for those annoying habits you keep coming back to?
What does this mean for the guilt you might feel when you are faced with all your inadequacies?
What does this mean for your relationships with others, with people you like and people you don’t?
The Outflow: “If we love one another…”
Speaking of others, what do other people have to do with our personal relationship with God? This is something incredible. With this phrase, God is telling us that “not only do I have enough love to fulfill and satisfy you, but I have enough love for you to give and connect with others as a part of my body.” Our loving others then becomes an expression, a byproduct, of our loving and being loved by God.
The “if” here doesn’t indicate a condition, it’s meant to say “here’s how you will be able to tell that my love is being perfected in you.”
The Proposition: “No man has seen God at any time…”
This phrase addresses our human limitations in being able to love an unseen God as well as we like to think that we do. Understanding this part of our nature, He sets the stage for making a mind-boggling connection between the abstract and the physical. Loving God is made “real,” made tangible, in the act of loving people. How on earth (literally) does this make any sense?
It’s interesting that we’re all so ready to love God, but the thought of loving certain people can turn us off immediately. Why is that? Because people are flawed, they make dumb mistakes, they do hurtful things. But wait, let’s backtrack and think again about the fact that God dwells in us, and the idea that His love overflows out of us. Following that train of thought then, we see that we’re not the ones doing the loving here, God is.
THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is God’s love being perfected in us. THAT is love being made whole and continually growing and spreading. And THAT is the result of being consumed with God’s love.
Greek Dictionary (Lexicon-Concordance). N.p.: Lockman Foundation, 1998.Strong’s Number Greek Dictionary of the New Testament Online Bible with Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Thayer’s Lexicon, Etymology, Translations Definitions Meanings & Key Word Studies. Web. 11 Jan. 2016.