We live in a world that is constantly longing for Eden. Modern lingo talks about it even though they don’t realize they are doing so. We use the word utopia. We’re longing for a perfect world without any problems. Our desire for this kind of perfection drives a lot that we do. The car industry is trying to make the perfect, emission less, efficient car. The tech industry is trying to make life as easy as possible with tech that doesn’t need maintenance like it used to. Food delivery so we never have to leave our house. Drive through coffee if having coffee delivered is too extreme. We are longing for utopia. 

One of the big ways we long for Eden is in the work world. Choice one would be to never have to work again. Choice number two is to do our dream job for the rest of our lives that doesn’t feel like work. Choice number three is to do a job we’re meh about while we side-hustle our dream job. When we’re working on something and it doesn’t feel like work, that’s called being in the flow. It’s a state where we are fully immersed in the the performing of an activity, feeling fully focused, energized, involved and enjoyment. It’s work that doesn’t feel like work. 

I have experienced this kind of flow several times in my life. Years ago I experienced this kind of flow when I was writing songs and recording them. Hours and hours could go by and it would feel like minutes. Recently there have been a couple of things like this for me. When I’m doing woodworking it can be easy to lose track of time. And when I’m writing. I could write for hours and not feel like it. How about you, what are some of those things you do that don’t feel like work, where hours can go by and feel like minutes? Well, that’s flow. 

We also call this passion. The wisdom of our time says: “You just gotta do what you’re passionate about and not worry about what anyone else thinks.” Follow your passions. But, is this good advice? Should we really follow our passions? Conversely, is there anything wrong with that? 

Flow is a universal principle, everything works on flow. I think those moments when we experience this feeling are when we’re getting into the grooves for which God designed us. These are echos of Eden. Echoes of a world we were created to experience but for now is off limits to us. 

And that’s the problem. We’re not in Eden. We’re not in utopia. In this life, there is no such thing as perfect. There will never be a perfect house, car or computer. There will never be a perfect person. We’re all broken. Every human is a sinner who needs a savior. Not one single person can live up to perfection. We long for Eden because that’s what we were created for. But we will not experience Eden until Jesus restores all things and makes everything new. 

So, when we read “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us” what do we do with that? It can be a challenging question. It can be confusing, because we don’t seem to be able to experience this level of perfection in the real world. Well, the NIV translates perfected as completed. “If we love one another…His love is made complete in us.” That helps. But, we still need some help. For that, we have to go greek. Don’t worry, I don’t speak greek. So, If I can understand it, you can too. It won’t be all greek. 

The word for Perfect or Complete is “Telioo” which is the verb form of the word “Telios” which comes from the noun, “Telos”. Telos means “Termination, the limit at which a thing ceases to be…the end…that by which a thing is finished.” “Telios” means “to be brought to its end, finished…wanting nothing necessary to completeness.” And Telioo, the form used in 1 Jn 4:12 means, “To make complete, accomplish, finish, add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full.” There is a study called: “Teleology” which is the study of objects with a view to their aims, purposes or intentions. 

That’s a lot of definition for one word. But, one thing you have to remember with translation is that there isn’t always an exact word in one language to match another. So sometimes we have to use a phrase to bring clarity to a single greek word. 

What John is talking about here is the way that God’s love is brought to completion in our lives. He wants us to know how to live in God’s love to the extent that we don’t lack God’s love in our lives. To live in love so that there is nothing left to want. 

In other words, God’s love being perfected in us does not mean that we are perfect. It does not mean that we love perfectly. Rather, it means that when do what John says, we will collectively experience the fullness of God’s love. More specifically, when we are loving one another we are going through the process of being perfected in God’s love. So then, perfect love is not something you find in a person. It’s not something you stumble upon or discover. It is a flow and the flow is a process. 

Teleology is the study of objects with a view to their aims, purposes or intentions. Remember, that is the same root word in the greek. This idea of complete love, perfect love, love that lacks nothing is about the process through which we will experience the fullness of God’s love here on earth. Where our world is constantly looking for various advancements in science, technology and the economy to discover perfection, John tells us that the place we will experience love in all it’s fullness is when we love one another. 

“No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us”

Now, back to our question. Is there anything wrong with following your passions. No, not necessarily. As long as you understand some things. You will never find true fulfillment in anything. Sure, there will be seasons where that thing you’re passionate about will be very rewarding and fulfilling. But, eventually, it will become like any other thing – work. Why? Because we weren’t made to be completed by the pursuits of our passions. 

If we’re not very careful, we will find ourselves following the wisdom of the world when it comes to our passions. Remember God’s love gives where the world’s love takes. Following your passions can easily lead to a life where you take from others in the hopes that it will fill that hole in your heart. But, no matter how hard you try, nothing can fill your heart the way God’s love can. Passion tends to be all about me and doing what is most important to me regardless of how it might affect the people around me. 

Perfection is something altogether different. Let’s read the verse a third time: “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us”
This verse contains an if/then clause. There just isn’t a written then, it’s implied. “If we love one another” then something will happen to us. What is that thing that happens? Well, it’s actually two things: 1.) God abides in us (remains, lives, dwells, resides in us) and 2.) His love is perfected (complete, lacking nothing) in us. 

That utopia that we all long for, that dream of a perfect world, well, it will never come by following your passions. There’s nothing wrong with having passions. I would argue that God wired us that way. But, when we are being driven by that passion then the passion has become an idol. We have to go beyond passion to perfection. And there is only one way to do that – Love. Specifically, sacrificially loving one another. 

The love that flows from God, the love that He has for us that led Him to send His son to earth to be the sacrifice for us, this love reaches completion when we love others. This should make sense because Jesus’s only command in the upper room when He was establishing a new covenant with us was that we would love one another like He loved us. God’s love is perfected in us when we’re loving one another. 

God’s love will never be perfected in us when we’re following our passions and making every decision in life based on our passions. Why? Because we’re loving ourselves in that. It’s all about us and what we want. But that’s not love. The love of God is not a selfish love its a selfless love. It’s a love that denies itself what it is rightly entitled to so that someone else can benefit. Completion doesn’t come by getting more for ourselves. Completion comes by giving more of ourselves. Love is not something we pursue as an individual for ourselves for our own benefit. Love is something we give out as we abide in the vine and God’s love flows through us. 

Gal 5:6 – “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” 

Love must go beyond passion to perfection. Passion is all about me. Perfection is all about giving of myself so that the love of God can be completed in us. Not me. Us. This is what counts. Paul said it was the only thing that counts. The works we can accomplish in our own strength count for nothing. But the love that we give to one another in Christ, that’s Eden, that’s the utopia the world longs for. It’s what eternity is going to be all about. Living in the love of the Father. 

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