This is an excerpt from Perfect Love, posted October, 2010.
Last night our young adult group discussed 1 John 4, marvelous. I did get a bit "hung up," as it were, on verse 7, of all verses:
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God."
Why this verse? Well, our discussion of the chapter led us to question what it means that "everyone who loves" is born of God and knows Him. What does it mean to love? Does that mean that every time someone experiences love, they experience God in some way? Does it mean they take part in God without even accepting Him? What does it mean to be born of God and know Him, for that matter?
I admit, I had a pretty strong reaction to the idea that you could truly love without the power of the Holy Spirit. Fortunately I was having this discussion with a bunch of mothers, so they shut that down pretty quickly, "Silly little well-rested and unfettered girl, you know nothing of love!"
Okay, of course I'm joking. I doubt any of my friends even thought that, or if they did, I'm sure they felt bad for it. But in any case, it does illustrate a good point: people can seem to demonstrate and recognize love even before they accept the work of God's Spirit in their lives. Surely a man can recognize the evidence of God's love even if he doesn't know God.
Still the struggle remained for me; I knew that nothing good can come of the flesh. The only good we do comes by the power of God (Gal 2:20). I still rejected the idea that we can, in our weakness, even come close to showing the love of God without His intervention.
The argument was then made that perhaps we love as a reflection of God's love but we can't experience, know, or express the love of God on our own. We can experience feelings of a type if love and express loving things.
While this made sense, I was uncomfortable with an undefined concept of love. My chaotic brain, like a 3 year old, requires structure and defined boundaries. I was especially uncomfortable that we were taking about a concept of love without defining it biblically. The only love defined here was the love that God exemplifies and that HE perfects in us (read verses 9-19, wow!). What is this "other" love of which you speak?
This is an ongoing argument going on between the left side of my brain and the right. I'd love to add your voice to the chaos!