When I was in high school I delivered pizzas for a local pizza place called Cardo’s Pizza. They’re still open in Jackson, and I highly recommend their food. We get it every time we’re visiting family. While I was working there, we had a bug light going by the shed to draw the bugs away from the entrance to the building. One night we were all standing around after work had ended talking about nothing when a huge moth flew into the light. The sparks were impressive, and the length of the explosion was surprising. We all clapped afterward as though we had just watched a fireworks display.
As we have been learning about becoming love we have talked about how challenging that can be when there are so many lights distracting us. They are much smaller than God’s eternal light, but because of their proximity to us and their tangibility, we have a hard time resisting their draw. Some of us find ourselves in a very similar situation to that moth. We’ve been drawn into a light that was no light at all. We see other moths flying away, telling us “It’s a trap, it’s a trap, it’s a trap!” but we continue on towards the beacon. We find ourselves sucked into its vortex and struggle to be able to see God.
We started this journey in 1 John 4:12 with the thought, wouldn’t it be cool if we could see more of God? Wouldn’t it be amazing if people who don’t know Jesus could somehow see him through us? That verse reads: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
We want to become love, but there is a problem. Light pollution. It turns out this light pollution is a strategy of the enemy. The antichrist is in the world and has been actively working to lead Christ-followers astray for millennia. But there is good news, We have overcome them. We are not subservient to their demand and siren songs. There is a way out. There is a way to see God beyond the urgency of the lights of this world.
And it’s love. Which is good news. Actually great news. It’s so great that there is a way out, that we don’t have to surrender to the draw of the light that seeks to trap us. But, as with anything, we also started to discover that what we think of as love isn’t quite what John had in mind.
Love from the viewpoint of the world takes. The love of this world is all about me and getting my needs met. From chapter 2 of 1 John we looked at the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life. The world is wrapped up in satiating its own desires. As far as modern media is concerned we have every right to the kind of love we feel we want most, regardless of its effects on ourselves or our society. We just have to be true to who we are. And that’s where we discovered this principle, “the beginning of becoming love is unbecoming ourselves.” Love isn’t about fulfilling our desires, it’s about denying them so that we can give to others.
That’s nice and all, but it’s not enough to help me become love. I need more information than that. John knew we would need more. Fortunately for us, John spent a lot of time by Jesus’ side. He was the disciple that Jesus loved, and apparently like to point out to people that He was Jesus’ bestie. Because of his proximity to Jesus, we were able to see that the key to becoming love is abiding in love. Which sent us back to John 15 where Jesus taught John about abiding in the vine.
There we learned another principle of love. You can’t hoard true love. Love isn’t something that can be saved up. Love is a flow. The only way to live in the love of God is to let it flow through our lives. Just like sap has to flow from the vine into the branches to produce fruit, love has to flow from the Father to the Son and through our lives into the lives of others to produce fruit. Any branch that doesn’t let the love flow gets cut off and thrown in the fire. And that’s where we learned the principle that love goes beyond personal possession to being a person of provision.
But that still wasn’t enough. Love has to flow, but love has to do more than that. Love flows when we’re loving others. But love still does more than that. Love gives us confidence. But it’s still more than that. Love is what brings effectiveness to the work of Jesus’ purifying blood in our lives. Jesus’ blood purifies us from sin, but that promises seems to have a condition on it. Jesus’ blood purifies us if we are walking in the light. As hard as it is to hear, it would appear that having loving feelings for one another is not enough for Jesus. We have to go beyond thought and talk to walk. Because love walks. Just like Jesus walked up the hill to die for us, we too have to walk out our love for one another.
When we sacrificially love one another this way, we have confidence before God. When we haven’t been living up to God’s commands on us as His children, we have fear. Like a child who has done something wrong getting called into talk to the parents who tries to hide in the other room out of fear for what’s going to happen, we too experience fear in our relationship with God when we aren’t sacrificially loving one another. But, when we are loving one another exactly as Jesus commanded us in the New Covenant, we have confidence to enter the most holy place by the blood of Jesus that purifies us from all unrighteousness.
In the classic Pixar movie Cars, Mater proves to McQueen that he is the world’s best backwards driver. After he proves his supremacy in that area to the arrogant race car, he says: “I don’t need to know where I’m goin’, I just need to know where I been.” Of course in real life, knowing where you’re going can make a big difference. But, it’s good to stop for a moment and look back at where we’ve been on this journey.
Especially as we head into our final week. Because what we’re going to learn this week has both immediate and eternal consequences. We’ve covered a lot of ground and that’s all good. But, we’re not quite across the finish line yet. We have to finish the race.
And that’s where we will pick it up tomorrow!