I open this post with the disclaimer that this post is a summery of Dr. Paul Tripp's sermon on "The War of Love" that I heard him preach tonight and not an original work.
1Jo 4:7-11 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein 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 ought also to love one another.
A couple of words that we rarely if ever used in the same breath are "war" and "love", yet this scripture passage teaches that we are in fact fighting a war of love and there are four battlefronts where this war is seen.
I. The confrontation of definition.
There has been much damage done to the church of Jesus Christ in America because we have allowed the world to redefine what is meant by "love". It is more than respect, it is more that affection, it is more than an absence of dislike. Love is willingly and sacrificially giving of yourself regardless of whether the one being loved deserves it or not! Herein is love... [God] sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
II. The confrontation of motivation.
The motivation that is presented to us here has nothing to do with whether we feel like it or not, love is a duty. However, biblical love is always joyful because it is motivated by something greater than itself. Our motivation is to be that we have been loved when we were the least deserving, the vertical love from God to us should cause us to manifest horizontal love for everyone around us. All too often we are guilty of the sin of forgetfulness though, we go throughout the day without ever once thinking about the fact that God saved our souls from hell. We allow other's action or our feelings to be the motivation for our love, instead of remembering that the greatest love ever manifested was manifested towards us! Such a great love cannot be bottled up inside of us, we should not be able to help but love others because of that.
III. The confrontation of conflict.
It is our nature to be bent toward deceit, this is even (perhaps especially) true with self-deceit. We allow ourselves to believe that because we raise our hands in worship, or because we regularly attend church, or work hard, or tithe, that we really do love God. God has given us another test, he says that any man who claims to love God yet hates his brother is lying. It's not okay to argue with your spouse on the way to church, it's not okay to get angry at the slow driver in front of you, it's not okay to get fed up with the kid's bickering and just start smacking, IT'S NOT OKAY! God says "Quit lying to yourself, because you are proving that you don't really love me!" This war for love is being waged a very regular basis, since our sovereign God knew just what to give us as the ultimate litmus test to see whether we truly love him or not.
IV. The confrontation of calling.
There is an incredible truth given to us in one little word in this text, that is the word ought. When we read that word we often think of it as synonymous with should, such as "I ought to go to the grocery store today." We think it means a good idea or logical suggestion, while that is a good definition there is another connotation being carried here that we tend to overlook. That is the definition that means a natural course or literally designed for that purpose. Such as "Rain ought to be wet" or "The sun ought to be bright". When we apply this definition to this passage we find a radical concept, that is that as Christians a part of our new man that has been put on is an intrinsic design to love. That is what we are called to do, what we should do, and also the very thing we were designed to do; love is our purpose in life. When we fail to love our brother not only are we in disobedience, but we are also using our bodies and emotions in a way that they were never meant to be used, against their very nature.
Cool quote: "Love (God) rescued me from love (for self) so that I can love (others)!
I hope this short outline helped you in some small way, the way the sermon did for me in a large way. I was called to reexamine my view of brotherly love, love toward God, and my very purpose in life.