We are a mixture of sad and ecstatic this week as we finish up our study of Kelly Minter’s What Love Is. We are so sad to be meeting for the last time with our What Love Is small groups. But we are so excited to see you finish the study! You stuck with it and we trust that God blessed you for your obedience!
If you have fallen behind, please don’t give up. You can keep working on the lessons until you finish completely.
This week in our study, we learned about:
- Truth and love
- Servant leadership
- Humility and self-sacrifice
- Jesus as both Son of God and Son of Man
I clearly remember the first time my then future-husband, James, told me he loved me. He sat next to me on the couch, held my hand, looked deep into my eyes and said those three magic words.
I love you.
I then walked to the bathroom and threw up.
It’s partly because it wasn’t just some sweet nothing that people in a relationship say to each other when their hearts go pitter-patter. We had decided when we started dating that James would be the one to say, “I love you” first and that he would say it when he felt confident I was the one he wanted to marry.
So, “I love you” really meant, “I’m committed to you and to our relationship. This isn’t casual dating; it’s getting ready for marriage.”
Hence, my reaction.
Now, we’ve been married 15 years and we say, “I love you” all the time.
So, there are days when I pause after I’ve hung up the phone or kissed him goodbye after the rush of the morning. I want to make sure I never forget the significance of those words, never let “I love you” get lost in the banalities of life or the commonness of overuse.
I love you.
That means I’m committed to you and to us. I care about you because of who you are and not what you do. Whatever we’re facing in life, we’re doing this together.
We all need a reminder at times of what love really is.
Maybe it’s because we don’t feel loved.
Maybe it’s because we take it for granted.
The early church was no different.
We read this week:
When John was an old man he had to be carried into his church at Ephesus in the arms of his disciples. They would take him to the front where with barely the strength to speak, he’d say, ‘Little children, love one another!’ The church members wearied of hearing him saying the same thing each week with nothing to add. ‘Master, why do you say this?’ they asked. ‘It is the Lord’s command” was John’s reply, ‘and if this alone be done, it is enough” (Minter 175).
John couldn’t forget that God loved him. Jesus had chosen John for his inner circle of three intimate disciples. At the Last Supper, John had actually leaned against Jesus. He was the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13). Jesus thought so highly of John, that He entrusted His mother into John’s care as He died on the cross (John 19:26-27).
It’s no surprise, then, that John’s primary message in his writings is that God loves us and that we should love others.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
“God is love . . . We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:16, 19).
God didn’t just love us; He loved us first and He loved us sacrificially.
We can’t take such extravagant love for granted. We can’t depersonalize it and assume that although God loved the world, He doesn’t necessarily love us–you and me—personally and passionately.
We need to remember during stress, fear, trial, and even in the midst of the mundane that God’s love for us never fails.
But John doesn’t stop there. He says, God loves you . . .so love one another.
It’s a natural progression.
We all have the opportunity to be the physical, tangible reminders of God’s love in a world starving for His affection.
John tells us:
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).
You are loved, my dear friends. Never forget that you are loved.
And, because God loves you so, you can truly love others.
ASSIGNMENT FOR THE WEEK:
- Sign up for another online Bible study!
- Write a review on Amazon website
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR THIS WEEK (answer in small groups or post a comment here):
- John talks about “walking in the truth” and how to “walk in love” (2 John 4, 6). Do you tend to fall farther to the “love” side or the “truth” side in your relationships? How can you bring more love or more truth where needed in the future? (from p. 161).
- John tells us what love is in 1 John 3:16: “This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers” (HCSB). How can we go from “trying to be first” like Diotrophenes in 3 John to living out this definition of true love in different areas of our lives? (from p. 173)
- Why do you think the focus on our idols—trying to stop worshiping them—is so self-defeating? How can turning our attention to sitting at Jesus’ feet, falling at Jesus’ feet and worshiping at Jesus’ feet, be a better remedy?
- John emphasized that Jesus was fully God coming in the flesh right from the beginning in his letters. Kelly quotes Reuben Welch, saying “What this means is that into your world, your context, your lifestyle—I mean, just like it is, just exactly like it is—Jesus comes all the way, and he brings with him the very life of God.” How does this comfort for you? How does it disrupt your desire to be in control of your life? (from p. 178).
- What has been the single most significant concept of this study for you?