Love and Joy
(“agape” & “chara”)
Westminster Shorter Catechism:
Q1 What is the chief end of man?
A. To glorify God and ENJOY Him forever.
Q42 What is the sum of the Law?
A. To love God...and our neighbor as ourselves.
Please begin this reflection on “I John 3:16-20” by thinking on Jesus as you listen to the last line of the second verse of the McGarrigle Sister’s “Love is:” as sung by Emmylou Harris. https://youtu.be/8ufDPBReOPA
We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers and sisters. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us, for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. - 1 John 3:16-20
In this passage, the writer recalls to the early churches in Asia Minor how God reveals love (“agape”) in Jesus’ laying down his life for us; thus calling on us to enact that love in mercy and selfless sharing of our gifts. He is channeling (almost verbatim) parts of Jesus’ “farewell address” recorded in John 15. In I John 1:4 he says, “We write these things that your joy may be made full.” In John 15:11,12, Jesus says, “I tell you these things that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be made full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”.
Love is to be ENACTED not merely professed; and selflessly, not in “reciprocity”; and not just in charity, but in reconciliation.
Consider Jesus' words in Matt 5:23,24. “First be reconciled to your brother, before you come back and make your offering to God;” and in Luke 11:4 Jesus says, “When you pray say…forgive us our sins, as we are forgiving EVERYONE indebted to us.” And in 2 Corinthians 5:18 Paul writes, "All this is from God who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." We enact God’s unmerited Grace to us by our mercy to others.
But WHY? What does God get out of it, and what do we get? The answer is not just joy, but “that [Jesus’] joy is in us, and our joy is made full.”
“Love is its own reward.”