“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
This is the sixth and last time John uses “beloved” for his readers. John loved his readers, and God loved John’s readers as well.
if God so [in this manner] loved us,
God’s example of love should set an example for the believer’s love for Christians. The “if” in the Greek assumes that John’s readers agreed with the reality of God’s love for them. This “if” or better, “since” refers back to verse ten.
1 Jn 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
The word “so” is just as broad as John 3:16. How robust, how strong is God’s love in sending His Son to die for us? There is no way to measure it. Nothing men did or said about God changed God’s love for them.
Christians stand under a moral necessity to love like they are loved.
Nothing men did or said about God changed God’s love for them. Jesus cried out on the cross, “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do!” (Lu 23:34). This is not a normal operating procedure for love; this is divine love.
If we clearly see the extent of Jesus’ love on the cross for us, we cannot help but love fellow Christians. Jesus loved us when we were not lovely, so we should love Christians who are not lovely. This is not an easy task because some Christians are jerks. Jesus sacrificed Himself for sinners, not saints. This is radical love. It is easy to love attractive and likable people but not very easy to love unattractive people with human love; it requires divine love.
Radical love requires the presence of God’s love in us. We need to be born spiritually to have the capacity to love like this. Unless we possess God’s life, we cannot live like Him. Unless we know something about God’s love, we cannot love like Him. All other love falls short of divine self-sacrificing love. We love with the attitude of a sinner saved by grace, “I do not deserve God’s love, but He loved me anyway. My fellow Christian does not deserve my love, but I love him anyway.”
This kind of love does not love on the surface. It does not give the appearance of love but loves whether anyone sees our love or not. This is a love beyond natural faculty. This love does not cut people down but endures their idiosyncrasies. People with God’s life can love with God’s love.
All lame excuses for not loving others will not stand the scrutiny of God’s unconditional, unalterable, inimitable love for sinners. Operating under this kind of love, we cannot say, “I can’t love that jerk. If you knew him as I know him, you would see why I can’t love him.” God loved us with all our sins, quirks, distortions, and rationalization, so we should love those with the same failures. Lame imitations cannot fake this kind of love.