In our meditation on the love of God and the command to love one another, we cannot overlook a central point: those who love have been born of God (I John 4:7).
Jesus said we must be born again to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3). Now we hear John telling us that being born of God means we will love one another.
When Jesus was asked by Nicodemus how a man can enter into his mother’s womb and be born again, he said the new birth is not physical, but of the Spirit. When we are born again, we remain the same age and our physical bodies look no different. But inside, in the world of the soul, we are made new.
To be born of God is the primary spiritual reality of a Christian. The new birth means we have been brought from spiritual death, insensitivity, and unresponsiveness to God, to spiritual life, awareness of God, and obedient responsiveness to him. To be born again is to have the “seed” (I John 3:9) of God abiding in us. The Spirit makes us alive and lives within us. The life of God is in our souls. The love of God abides in us.
God is love. Since his life is in the soul of a person who has been born again, that person expresses the love of God to others. To be born of God is to love others.
The new birth is the work of God. But that doesn’t mean we are left with nothing to do. The Bible is full of commands related to the work of God’s Spirit in us.
Jesus said that the work of the Father is that we believe in him (John 6:29). He said that the one who believes in him will have rivers of living water flowing from his heart. And this, he said, refers to the Spirit (John 7:39). The apostles said that if we repent and confess Jesus we will receive the gift of the Spirit (Acts 2:38). We are called to walk by the Spirit, deciding to express the life of God in our pursuits and relationships. We are told that the Spirit within us produces the fruit of love, and that we are to show it to others (Galatians 5:16-26).
Over the years, I have come to realize that there are things I cannot fully understand, but that I can affirm. And by affirming them, I can enter into the reality of them.
Do we completely understand the new birth? No. Can we affirm it and participate in it? Absolutely.
Repent and believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Confess him as your Savior and Lord. Rejoice in the new birth that the Spirit of God has worked in you. Respond to the Spirit who lives within you by faithful responsiveness to him. Live by the Spirit’s revealed will and ways in the Bible. By faith, express to others the love of God that abides in you. Engage with God each moment of the day. This is the way of those who are born of God.
This weekend, think on these things as you once again read I John 4:7-21. Let’s pray for a renewed sense of the love of God for us as we gather for worship on Sunday.