Today’s second lesson, 1 John 4:7-21, is a bit repetitive internally, but that which it repeats is probably the best, most concise advice imaginable for those of us who have difficulty knowing how to respond to God’s love.
Even made manifest in the person of Jesus, God is (to me at least) a very difficult entity with whom to create “a personal relationship.” How does one love something or someone that exists in a realm outside of our own time and space? As Mary Magdalene (and letter, Judas Iscariot) sang in Jesus Christ, Superstar, “I don’t know how to love Him.”
The first letter of John provides an answer, and probably the answer, or at least the best answer for most mortals.”Since God loved us so much, we ought also to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and His love is perfected in us.”
More broadly, if we have trouble loving something cosmic and largely beyond our ken, we can and should make sure we love this world which He created. By loving His creation, and especially the human creatures He made in His own image, we do honor to him and show our love for him.
Despite all of its pain, this is, as Louis Armstrong sang, “a wonderful world.” God means us to rejoice in this world — to rejoice in His creation — and to love and care for it and those within it. “We are in this world,” John reminds us towards the end of this passage. Yes, indeed, we are. Make the best of it. Do it for God.