There is a children’s praise chorus called, “Beloved (1 John 4:7 &8) with which I have an ongoing love/hate relationship. Quite frankly, the song annoys me. We used to sing it on a praise team I was a member of, and every time it appeared in the song rotation, I inwardly cringed and possibly even outwardly rolled my eyes. I find the music so, dare I say it, perfectly uninteresting. That fact, together with the repetition of precious few lyrics, leaves me musically wanting.
But the song does relay a strikingly powerful message. Which is where the love part of my relationship with the chorus arises. The song is taken directly from 1 John 4:7 & 8, thus the subtitle of the chorus. These verses declare important declarations and challenges. Please don’t give in to the temptation to skim through this part, friend. The words are essential for those of us who declare ourselves Jesus followers.
Quoting from the Amplified Bible, John writes, “Beloved, let us [unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves [others] is born of God and knows God [through personal experience]. The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.]”
The song that is, to me, not much of a song in terms of what it offers musically, does without argument point me to a few non-negotiables in a Spiritual walk that is mature. First, love is unselfish. Ouch. Second, unselfishly loving others is an outward, tangible sign of whether or not we know God through personal experience. If we know Him, we love others. Ouch again. Finally, the reverse is also true. John says the person who does not unselfishly love others does not now nor ever did know the heart of our Creator, the place from which all love originates.
Which brings me to that all-important question we must ask ourselves when we pause on a few words of scripture. So, what? What does that mean for me today as I go through my life and tend to my responsibilities? It means my decisions make declarations about my relationship with Jesus. If my life demonstrates unselfish love towards others, I know Jesus. And if it does not, I do not know Him now and never have.
Of course, we are all a work in progress. We come to know Jesus over time. Without question, I know Him better today than I did last month or last year. I will continue to know Him better as time passes. And knowing Him more will be apparent to others because my behavior will be more loving. The two things go hand in hand. To know Jesus more means to love others more.