Pastor Ron Hunt
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is from God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. 1 John 1:7
God is known in many ways.
We know God most by the “Way of the Heart” according to the great spiritual teachers in various traditions. This is especially true of the Christian spiritual path.
Think of the paintings or icons of Jesus you’ve seen. In some, you can see his hand posed gesturing to his visible heart. Think also of all the other paintings that you’ve seen of him. The loving look is what stands out. Rarely does it look like he was really thinking hard. Thinking hard gets us somewhere, but it is by love that we really know God. If we have such love that is unconditional, then we know God.
More importantly still, look at the Bible’s writings of Jesus. His mind is certainly the most brilliant, but it is his love that the Biblical writers’ stress.
Scripture also affirms, love begins with God loving us. Jesus and the whole New Testament make sure we know God’s love is unconditional, always. And God loves everyone.
We humans so want to insert conditions between God loving us. It is understandable, because we learn to love in a human way. Perhaps you’ve heard things you have to do from well-meaning Christians who say, “You have to … in order to be … loved or accepted by God.”
Thus, the more we know God, the more we love God. Love and knowledge are reciprocal spiritually. Start with real love, you will have real knowledge. Start with true knowledge and you have true love. Real or true love is always unconditional.
Such love and knowledge was the experience, and therefore practice, of Christians everywhere for the first 300 years after Jesus’ life. This is when those in the Roman Empire would find Christians very strange and often a threat. Whatever disdaining or mistrustful things were said of these Christians, they marveled at how they lived. At least one writer then concluded after writing negatively about Christians, “… but my, how they love one another.”
They also loved all neighbors and even enemies as Jesus commanded his disciples. This continued to be so obvious for those in the next 300 years.
The most enduring experience of knowing God for me would be the experience of knowing, “God is love.” Two times in 1st John we read these three words, “God is love.” It is in everything that Jesus says and does! John wanted us to be sure we knew that well.
So, if we “know Jesus,” we also love unconditionally. We aspire to live what we know. We live by his Spirit and his teaching. The core of both is love, unconditional.
This is why at our church, the final words of worshiping God in Christ every Sunday are, “Let us go forth in peace, Loving God and Loving Everyone, Everywhere!” And all respond, “Thanks be to God!” It is a very fine way to go out with that proclamation, to help us live the Way of the Heart in Christ.
Pastor Ron Hunt of Friendship Center Church at Robson Ranch is a Spiritual Director and retired Psychologist. He leads worship every Sunday in the Ranch House’s Laredo Room at 9 a.m. for all those seeking Friendship with God, Christ, and other spiritual friends here. Contact Ron by cell at 218-330-5306 or email at [email protected]