What is Biblical Love?
1 John 4:10-11 describes love like this:
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
Here are a couple of observations that will help us understand what kind of love we should pursue in our communities.
1. Biblical love always starts with God. He is the definer of love so if we need a clear picture of what love really is then look at what the Father did. We cannot look to the world.
2. Biblical love always involves the sacrifice of self. God gave something (His Son Jesus, God in skin, Jn. 3:16) so that we might experience something (mercy or protection from His wrath).
3. Biblical love is expressed through us by imitating what He did.
Jesus tells us that the way the community of believers is to act towards one another is by actively pursuing to lay down our lives for one another. “Greater love has no one than that’s that He lay down his life for friends” (John 15:13). So the role of the disciple or Life Community leader is to help the community see ways to sacrifice themselves for each other and by setting the example themselves so that the love of Jesus might be seen.
One way to do that is by following Paul’s teaching in Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens and thereby fulfill the law of Christ”. The law of Christ is to love one another (see 5:14). The context is Paul challenging us to help each other in our struggle with sin. So instead of judging we are to extend grace and carry each other towards repentance and holiness. This is not always easy. It requires the sacrifice of prayer, time, friendship, and accountability even when there is no guarantee of reward.
Another way we love is by intentionally learning about those in our communities through time spent together. Jesus did this. He stepped out of Heaven as an act of love and spent time with His creation. What an amazing and powerful thing to do. Our Life Communities will grow in love when they just spend time together learning about each other.
We can also display love by entering into the real issues of life with each other. Let’s say someone in your group is walking through the experience of their parents divorcing (happened to me in college). The Life Community should be asking that person “how can we as a group help you?” “What do you need from us?” There should be a conscious effort by the group to take hold of these moments as potential for God to move rather than move past them too quickly.
There are many more ways to show love. So our responsibility is to look for them and respond. 1 John says “Little children, let us not love with word or tongue, but in deed and truth.”
1 Corinthians 13 is always read at weddings. It is actually meant to be read as a community (the Church Corinth). Go back and read it but put in your mind that it is being written to your Life Community. Ask God to start showing you how all of those attributes of love can be evident in your group.
Let us become great at loving in the way Jesus loved us.