“No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” 1 John 4:12-13
We live in a world where we’re perfecting superficial relationships. As if a superficial relationship could ever really be thought of as something that’s perfect.
Time was only the wealthy or privileged had the time or means to project the image that they had perfect lives and relationships. They dressed in the latest fashion, made social calls, ate their meals and drank their tea with perfect manners, and learned to speak in pleasantly modulated tones about appropriate topics in interesting ways. This all took a great deal of time and money which is why the wealthy were the only ones able to aspire to this level of “perfection” in their lives.
It’s funny that while we’ve abandoned the time and wealth consuming practices of that by gone era we’re beginning to progress into equally superficial kinds of relational patterns. The only thing is we’ve traded a Disney land type of artificial reality for a virtual one.
Mostly I blame it on the increasing amount of busyness required to get an education and earn a living but a big part is also the convenience factor presented by our mobile devices. Between appointments and engagements we can take a quick picture and post two or ten lines of text and keep people informed about the goings on in our lives. What’s more we can make sure that only our best side and best moments are presented in the pictures. We can turn the camera so that only the neat and tidy corners of our homes and lives get put on display. And then we take these snap shots as being real relationships.
Friends, real relationships take time, lots of time, together, doing lots of different kinds of things together and talking about lots of important, and sometimes messy, topics together. Real relationships, built on genuine respect, require that we not only learn how to speak what’s on our minds with clarity and candor, we also learn to value the impact those thoughts have on others so that we chose our words carefully so that they also carry the most tact and sensitivity we can give them, so that we can cause the least amount of hurt possible.
The apostle John knew that God wanted a real relationship with us. Nothing superficial will ever satisfy the heart of God. So when John instructs us on what’s required to know and abide with God, whom none of us have ever seen, he bridges that seemingly impossible gap by telling us to love one another. God is love. We know love because God loves us. We’re able to love because the Spirit’s living in us and we know even more about our God of love when we live and practice that love as we love one another. But it can’t be superficial. People need God’s love, and our love, to reach into the messy parts of their lives. That’s what Jesus did for us and by loving Jesus’ way we learn to know him better.