If this is a rhetorical question for you, the answer is probably, “Of course!” If this question gives you pause, then you might answer, “Maybe.” Regardless of your answer, I’d like to ask you to take an adventure with me related to this question. This adventure could help you since it is deeply rooted in the Bible and I’ve found the Bible to be very effective and enlightening.
Lately, I’ve been soaking in 1 John 4:16 which says, “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” When I first read this verse, it made me stop and think about knowing and believing in the love that God has for me. Looking into this verse more deeply, I learned that there are some really powerful things to consider with the verbs that John uses.
In Greek, the verbs “know” and “believe” are used in the perfect tense and this means that the action happened in the past and the results of that action continue now. For example, if you think about tying your shoe, the Greek perfect tense you would say that you have tied your shoe (and the results of tying your shoe are present now if your shoe is still tied).
So if we think about these verbs, to know and to believe, when John uses the perfect tense, he is saying that “we have come to know and have come to believe the love that God has for us.” And the results of knowing and believing that God loves us are continuous with us now. When I think about this, there have been times in the past that I have very much known and believed that God loves me. But if I’m really honest, my knowing and believing that God loves me can sometimes fade or decline. And sometimes, my ideas about God’s love can be influenced by my experiences with love from human interactions.
For example, have you ever had someone tell you that they love you but when you do something wrong or disagreeable to them, then their love for you declines? I would suggest that this isn’t love but rather manipulation. Have you had someone tell you that they love you, but they are only available to express love when it’s convenient for them? Again, I would suggest that this isn’t genuine love.
In my opinion and what I read in the Bible, I think God is the best example and evidence for genuine love, maybe for the simple reason that 1 John 4:16 says that “God is love,” full stop. So when we are looking for love in the most authentic expression, I think we can only find this when we look to God. Furthermore, as I think about this verse, I have been asking God to help me to live in the full reality and conviction that I know and I believe in God’s love for me – in the perfect tense.
In the second half of 1 John 4:16, it says, “. . . the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” In this part of the verse, John uses the present tense for the verb “abide.” This is important because the present tense in Greek means that it’s a continuous action, an activity that is ongoing and never stops.
This means that I continuously abide in love which means that I abide in God. With that ongoing activity, God abides in me. Because John says that God is love, we could interchange the word “love” for God and vice versa. But I think that main point is that abiding or remaining in love is a continual existence and doing this is the same as living or abiding in God.
Maybe such continual abiding is how we come to know and believe in God loving us. I bring this to your attention because I think that when don’t feel loved or when we aren’t being loving, the best way to address this struggle is to come back to the beginning and ask God to help you know and believe in God loving you. For me, everything begins and ends with being grounded in the present and ongoing reality of God loving me.
I pray that as you have read and maybe you’ll re-read this blog, you will have some increased awareness of the immensity and richness of God loving you!