An ancient story tells us that when John grew old and could no longer stand on his own, the believers would help him stand behind a table. Once in place he would say, “Little children, love one another.” John’s letters, like his gospel teach us about love. Because John knew that Jesus loved him and transformed him from a son of thunder to the “beloved disciple”, he was able to love others.
How would we live if we believed and accepted God’s love for us? Would we be more likely to sin or less? God’s love is not permissive, but redemptive and transformative. John envisions God’s love adopting us into God’s family. Even better, John shows that God’s love transforms us progressively so that when we see Jesus we will be like him for we will see him as he is.
Hope of Christ’s return engages us and empowers us to set ourselves apart for God alone. Years ago I preached a revival at Baylor University. With my grandfather’s pastor, Dr. Winfred Moore in the room, I preached from the text of Romans 8:28-31. Remember that God is working all things together for good for those who love him, conforming us to the image of his Son, Jesus. In my study I realized the question for the college students and all of us is not whether we like Jesus, but whether we love Jesus enough to become like Jesus. What we could never “gin up”, God’s grace achieves. Romans 8 reminds us that “nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord".
Go ahead then. Look at the love that God has lavished on us. Live in that love. Love others. Love Christ and he will make you like him. We are less likely to sin if we believe that God really loves us. Remember: God’s love is not permissive, but redemptive and transformative.