Connections 05.02.2021: Knowing God Loves Us

1 John 4:7-21

When I attended Mercer University, the Baptist Student Union (now Baptist Collegiate Ministries) had three student-led ministry groups that involved performing arts: one for singing, one for signing (as in American Sign Language), and one for acting. I auditioned and was accepted into Covenant, the singing group. For the first semester, we learned a selection of hymns and contemporary Christian songs, rehearsing for several hours each week. For the second semester, we booked Sunday morning appearances at churches all over Georgia—and a few in neighboring states. The host churches would provide us meals, lodging, and fellowship in exchange for our concerts.

Each of the four years I was a member, our ministry began with a weekend retreat where we got to know the new members, shared the happenings in our lives, and built a solid foundation for the group. We ate together, sang together, and played together. One evening at a particular retreat sticks firmly in my memory. Adam, a new member that year, introduced our group to a four-part, acapella song based on 1 John 4:7-8; 1 Corinthians 7; and Luke 10:27. We started with the altos (including me!) and slowly added each part until we were all singing together. Adam spent more than an hour teaching us that song, and then we spent a couple more singing it together, getting increasingly emotional over its beauty and power. It went like this:

Altos: Love one another, for love is of God. He who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God is love.
Basses: Love bears all things, believes all things. Love hopes all things, endures all things.
Sopranos: Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, all thy soul, all thy mind, all thy strength….
Tenors: God is love, God is love, God is love. God is love, God is love, God is love….

The different tunes melded together into glorious harmony that built to a crescendo toward the end—a mighty proclamation of God’s love. We sat on the floor in a circle, our heads bent close together, singing that song with feeling and power. The presence of God was palpable.

There is no greater description of our Lord God than love. Love is the theme that weaves through the entire story of the Bible. It’s the unbreakable cord that binds us together with God. It’s the trumpet call of a life lived in the Way of Jesus Christ. It’s the power to unite people, no matter how different we are, in a common bond of humanity.

I knew God loved me when I sang that song with my group back in 1997. And I’ve known God’s love again and again over the years since—through family, friends, church, nature walks, songs, Bible stories, strangers, animals, work, and the list goes on. God’s love is all around us. How do you experience it? How are you sharing it?

Discussion

  • Read 1 John 4:7-8; 1 Corinthians 7; and Luke 10:27. How do these verses make you feel? Do you believe they are true in your life?
  • How have you experienced God’s love? How do you know God loves you?
  • Why is it important to love other people the way God loves us? How can our love for each other assure us that “God lives in us” (1 John 4:12)?
  • What are the ways you show love to others in God’s name?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.

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