The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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On Becoming ‘Real’ | 1 John

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. 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. 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.
We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:16-19

 

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams is a much-loved children’s book telling the story of a toy learning about love. One of its best known passages is a discussion between the Skin Horse and the Velveteen Rabbit about how you become ‘Real’:

‘“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”’

We may not be toys, but love makes us ‘real’, too. The one who is love has lavished his love upon us. He has chosen not only to let us live in him, but also to come and live in us. This is even better than a toy becoming ‘real’… this is a broken, flawed, sinful human being made ‘perfect in love’. We are able to love because God first loved us.

To be ‘made perfect in love’, John writes, is to live without fear, because fear comes from an expectation of punishment. To love – and to live in the knowledge that you are loved – is to be unafraid of what is to come; it is to be completely secure.

Love from other things can be variable, unreliable, or conditional. But God’s love is secure, dependable, and trustworthy. His love is perfect, and it reassures and realigns our wandering and insecure hearts.

Love is God’s essential nature: he is love itself. We can be confident in God’s love for us, and therefore we can love one another.

What might loving one another look like this week? Perhaps it’s doing some shopping for a housebound neighbour, staying late to help a colleague reach a deadline, or encouraging a family member who is feeling low. Maybe it’s sharing something of the hope that you have with a friend overwhelmed by hopelessness, or simply praying for those in seemingly irredeemable situations.

It is through God’s perfect love that we have become ‘real’. We have been redeemed, and are being made into the person we were created to be. No longer need we be afraid.

This kind of love allows us to spot where we might see fear – of failure, insignificance, rejection, or something else – lurking in our lives, preventing us from loving others well. Today, ask God to bring his perfect love into those areas, and stand amazed as you see it make you ‘real’ once again.

Nell Goddard

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Nell Goddard

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