Wednesday, December 17, 2008

God, Worship, and Love: thoughts on 1 John 4:7-12

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No-one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:7-12)
I must confess, I am becoming more and more frustrated with the songs we sing in church and the songs I hear on Christian radio. Far too many of them focus on our love for God. There is nothing wrong with telling God we love God, or expressing our feelings of gratitude, or even expressing how we want to feel towards God (despite the reality of our cold hearts). But it is depressing all the same. My love for God is pathetic, of mixed motives, and constantly wavering. God's love for me is unlimited, pure, and never failing. Which would you rather focus on? Instead of singing to God "I love you" it is much more amazing to sing "you love me!"

This God of love is manifested as we love each other. Another confession, I would feel awkward to sing songs of love to the rest of my church family. But that is no reason not to do it. This passage of scripture asks us to respond to God's love, not with an introverted spiritual activity where we experience an intimate and loving moment with God "I love you, you love me", but by loving each other "you (God) love me, so I love your people". It is this outward loving (towards each other) rather than the 'upward' love (towards God only) that actually sees the transcendent God living among us completely. We love God as we live through Christ by loving each other. Experiences of Spiritual intimacy are not wrong, in fact they can be wonderful, but neither are they complete experiences of God's love.

Anyone know any songs that combine "God loves me" with "we love each other"?

2 comments:

  1. David and Jane GrantDecember 17, 2008 at 10:32 PM

    hmmmmn not too many good loving songs out there...the only painful song that springs to mind is

    you can be happy, and I can be happy and that's the way it should be (repeat)
    because, God loves you and I love you and that's the way it should be (repeat)
    you can be very sad, and I can be very sad, but that's not the way it should be (repeat) etc

    Dave is oft singing ...well....1 John 4:7&8 set to music.

    I'll trawl through my king's kids song days and see if I can find something there (it proably won't be pretty though!)

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  2. We are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord etc...

    Bind us together, Lord etc...

    Smile, don't you know God loves you; come to think of it I love you too etc...

    These are all a very sad indictment on the state of contemporary christian music. The music here sounds very outdated or childish now, but the lyrics are great. In fact, I often find myself singing "Smile, don't you know..." as I'm walking down the street.

    Of course, as Jane says, my favourite is "First John, four, seven and eight!"

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