“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.” With these words begin one of the most startling messages ever shared: God gives his love to us and wants to perfect it in people like you and me.
Decades after a teenager named John laid his head on Jesus’ chest at the last supper we hear from him the wisdom of a lifetime. From the wellspring of revelation he tells us two astounding things: God’s love can be “made complete in us,” and, “in this world we are like Jesus.”
Can we drink in those two possibilities? They are the meditation of his lifetime. John is the one who followed Jesus to the base of the cross. John became the son of Mary and cared for his adopted mother until her death. John saw the love of God with his eyes and touched the love of God with his hands. Near the end of his life he tells us plainly, “God is love.” We could be comfortable enough with these words because they require only that we become recipients of what God has done.
Perhaps most surprisingly, this lifetime-disciple of Jesus encourages us with the astounding possibility that because we follow Jesus, the love of God can be perfected in us. How could this possibly be so? Most of us have been trained to recite the depravity of our hearts as the daily mantra spoken before we ask for forgiveness. Yet John suggests that a lifetime of following Jesus can result in perfected, fearless love. He calls us to participate, to steward, and to complete what God starts in us. To limit our lives as only the resting place of God’s love is to bury the treasure in order to give it back to him later.
Was John serious? What?!? Perfect love--in me? Today I can offer two suggestions to start us down this path.
First, since God is love, we cannot manufacture the real thing on our own. All true love originates in him and flows to us. We cannot love apart from his empowerment.
Second, we become stewards of the love of God, both in ourselves and toward the world around us. God-love cannot be made complete unless we ourselves because like Jesus in this world. The fullness of his love depends on us.
We can know and rely on the love he has for us. Who knew we could also become complete in it? Apparently John knew: and now so do we.