I really could write a book about our parenting and family experiences in a home of five boys. Among the chapters would be one entitled “My Annual Day of Perspective.”
Our first three boys are rather close in age. And being a good father during the years when they were very young (toddlers, preschoolers, early elementary), it was my annual duty to take them shopping for Christmas presents for mommy. OH MY! They were always so pumped up about this, whereas I just hoped to survive it. I had already about exhausted my energies just thinking up what we might actually buy for Diana. And they would have a few ideas of their own … not exactly normal present ideas, nor something you could do with one-stop shopping.
So, off to the malls we would go. This of course required at least two car seats and a stroller. So there was the confusion of getting younger ones out of the seats without the older ones running into parking lot traffic. Next was the challenge of getting through multiple layers of the airlock doors at the store. One of them fell down inside the door, while simultaneously the door blew shut to knock the other two on top of the first one. This, of course, engendered a fight – as the boy on the bottom was angry that his brothers piled on him, while the guy on top was offended that the bottom one did not understand it was the door’s fault. But the result was that all three were crying and yelling.
Eventually, we would find something to buy and we would take it to the checkout counter. There I would ask, “So who is going to pay for this?” Six eyes would look back at me as if to say, “Oh wow, we never thought about that until now!” So, dad would say, “I’ll take care of it for you!” (And we would go home – the boys with presents for mom, and me with a perspective on what Diana went through every time she went to the store!)
In our reading today we see the second of the passages in the New Testament where the word “propitiation” is used (and again translated as “atoning sacrifice”). In both the sermon on Sunday and in the writing yesterday, we have spoken about how this term speaks of the idea of “satisfaction” – that God’s wrath toward sin was satisfied by the payment of Christ on the cross. BUT, it is even more amazing than that. The Father has not only been satisfied with the payment, HE made the payment possible through the sending of his Son! We could not pay. We possessed no currency to cover the price – having nothing more in our “moral pockets” than my boys had dollars in their britches. The one being satisfied also had to be the one who made the satisfaction possible. Certainly you have to agree with me that THIS.IS.AMAZING!
I have pulled out of this passage the portion that deals with the theological “cross word” we are studying – propitiation. But, do not miss the teaching of the context in which this concept was used as an example: the duty of Christians to love one another. Here is the main idea of this section: If you will consider the great love of God that He has first lavishly displayed upon us, certainly there is no reason why all of you who have received such grace should not, it turn, be committed to love one another!
The passage teaches that our love for one another had not only “ought to be,” but that it is the measure of the reality of the Spirit in us, it is what makes us complete, and it is what demonstrates whether we are people who are truthful or liars. Notice the ending where after such an argument is given, there is nothing remaining to write but to give it as a command – verse 21: And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
God’s Love and Ours
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Let us identify two more words in the word search:
“Love” and “Agape” – You might say, “Well, I know that that is the same thing.” Yes, it is – agape is a Greek word for love. But this is one of those occasions where the Greek language (of the New Testament) has several words that can be translated into English as “love” – there is eros which speak of a sensual love (hence like “erotic”) and philia which depicts a brotherly love (hence like “Philadelphia”). But agape is used of selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love – such as God has displayed for us. It is the glue of the cross words – love held Christ to the cross, not the nails.