Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.1 John 4:11
This is the answer to every lame excuse on our part that says,
Oh, I just can't love that person. You don't know what she's like. If you had to live with her as I have to, you wouldn't be able to love her, either. No,
Dear friends, since God so loved us... If you have experienced this kind of love, if you have been to the cross and felt the overwhelming cleansing of God's love for you, despite the antagonism and hatefulness you have shown Him and despite your loving your own way and wanting to do what you like; if you have felt the cleansing grace of God wiping that all out without any recriminations or calling up of the past, forgetting and forgiving it all, then, as John says, you not only can love someone else but you
ought to—you owe it. That is where the word ought comes from. You
owe it to love one another.
This is why Paul could say in Romans 1,
I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks [everyone] (Romans 1:14). I owe something to everybody. And he himself said later on in that very epistle,
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another (Romans 13:8). We owe it because we have within us the fountain of love in the life of God. If you do not have the life of God, you cannot love one another like this. Do not try. Above all, do not come up with the shabby, shoddy, sleazy imitation of love that treats others kindly to their faces and cuts them to death behind their back. That is not love. Or merely to tolerate another for a time. That is not love. Unless you have the life of God, you cannot love. But if you have the life of God—that is the whole point—you can love like this, and you ought to do it. God, in you, can love through you and will love through you. All He is waiting for is the acquiescence of your will; then He will do the loving.
Verse 12 declares a great and daring concept: It recognizes that God is invisible, and no person has ever seen God. Even in Old Testament days, though there appeared manifestations of God in human form, these were but God in human disguise. These manifestations were not God made visible. Where is He made visible? John says,
If we love one another, God abides in us, and his love is made complete; that is, His love reaches its final end
in us. That is where people see God's love, and it is the only place it can be seen. The fact of an indwelling God becomes visible only when we manifest love one to another. As long as we are nice only to our friends or to those who are nice to us, no one has any idea that God is around. But when we start being nice to those who are nasty to us, when we start returning good for evil, when we start being patient, tender, thoughtful, and considerate of those who are stubborn, obstinate, and selfish, then people get the sense that God is close at hand, that He is in the situation. Then God's dwelling in us becomes visible to them.
Father, may these words burn themselves into my heart, that I may recognize myself as called preeminently, above all else, to this great task of being an abundant demonstration of this kind of love.
Unless we have the life of God, we cannot love one another. Have we grasped and exercised the power of His Presence so as not to find this a surprising truth?