What is Love?

2021-05-09 – Year B – Easter 6 – The Rev. Canon Christopher Klukas
Isaiah 45:11-13,18-19; Psalm 33:1-8,18-22v; 1 John 4:7-21; John 15:9-17


  • “Imagine all the people / Livin’ life in peace / You may say I’m a dreamer / But I’m not the only one / I hope someday you’ll join us / And the world will be as one” (Imagine, John Lennon, 1971).
  • John Lennon’s vision of love and unity comes at a cost: no heaven, no religion, no countries, no possessions.
  • Love and world peace sound appealing, but I’m not ready to buy into Lennon’s solution, as catchy as his song might be!
  • This is Lennon’s definition of love, but what is love? It is a concept that often seems hard to define.

What is Love?

  • 1 John 4:8 – “God is love.”
    • “God is love,” not “Love is God”
    • Some have made a God out of love. That is putting the cart before the horse!
    • “Love does not describe the fullness of God, but God defines the fullness of love.”
  • The “love” that John speaks of here is not a fuzzy feeling but a concrete action.
    • 1 John 4:9-10 – This is God’s best demonstration of love to humanity.
    • John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this…”
    • So love is sacrificial and serving. It is other-oriented, not self-oriented.
  • 1 John 4:17-18 – No fear in love
    • When we are confident of God’s love for us and our place in his Kingdom, we have no need to fear the day of Judgment. God’s perfect love cast our fear.

We Ought to Love

  • 1 John 4:11 – “if God so loved us, we also ought to love one other”
  • John 15:12 – “love one another as I have loved you”
    • Our love should mirror God’s love: sacrificial and serving, other-oriented not self-oriented, it should not inspire fear.
  • On Friday I had the opportunity to experience every possible side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine with force!
    • Late in the day one of my children asked me to read a story, and though I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it through, I said yes.
    • I was blessed with a lovely snuggle and a story about a Rabbit.
      • Little Rabbit has nothing to do, so her grandfather, Big Rabbit, invites her to spend the day helping him.
      • They visit friends in the forrest and listen to their problems.
      • The next day Big Rabbit leaves her a note asking her to gather some supplies. She thinks they will make a kite together.
      • The supplies are actually for helping their neighbors.
      • She is disappointed at first, but joyful in the end.
      • She discovered the joy her grandfather had in serving. John 15:10-11.

God Gives us the Ability to Love

  • This exhortation to love also comes with a warning. 1 John 4:20 – “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar.”
  • What about all the times that I am not so loving?
  • 1 John 4:7 – “Love is from God…”
    • “it is not the person’s ability to love that causes the new birth, but his ability to love flows from his regeneration in Christ.”
    • 1 John 4:19 – “We love because he first loved us.”
    • Stacking cups
  • What about those who are hard to love?
    • Loving those who are hard to love is a wonderful opportunity to grow your capacity for love!
    • Ask God to show you how he sees this person. Ask him to put his love for this person in your heart.
    • 1 John 4:12 – God’s love perfected in us
  • Is love the answer? Sort of, but it depends on how you define it.
    • When we define love by the source of all true love, God himself, love is the answer. 1 John 4:16

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