Live Love(d) Thematic & Scriptural Study: A Primer of 1 John

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Introduction

Maybe you’ve heard these poignant lyrics from gravelly‐voiced Lucinda Williams’ song “Born To Be Loved” (from her acclaimed 2011 album Blessed):

You weren’t born to be abandoned
And you weren’t born to be forsaken
You were born to be loved
You were born to be loved
You weren’t born to be mistreated
And you weren’t born to be misguided
You were born to be loved
You were born to be loved
You weren’t born to be abused
You weren’t born to lose
You were born to be loved
You were born to be loved
You weren’t born to suffer
And you weren’t born for nothin’
You were born to be loved
You were born to be loved
You were born to be loved
And you weren’t born to be disgraced
You were born to be loved
You were born to be loved

Although the love envisioned in these lyrics is most likely some form of human love that the author believes all human beings need (and perhaps even deserve), these words undoubtedly strike a chord deep within every human heart. Our deepest human need is to be loved—and not only to be loved, but to believe that somehow this is the very purpose for which we were created and brought into this world.

John agrees. He is often called “the apostle of love,” for reasons which quickly become clear when  reading his Gospel and his letters. Greek words translated “love” occur 291 times in the New Testament; 57 of these words occur in the Gospel of John (21 chapters), and 52 of them occur in the
three letters of John (7 chapters). Forty‐six of those 52 occur in the five short chapters of First John.

No wonder First John was chosen as the primary Scriptural foundation for developing the theme of the 2013 National Youth Gathering, “Live Love(d).” This theme is multi‐dimensional, as we will begin to see in this introductory study and will continue to see in additional resources made available as the Gathering draws nearer—culminating in the various presentations of this theme at the Gathering itself. What is crucial to recognize from the start is that in the theme “Live Love(d),” the “(d)” makes all the difference. We cannot even begin to know what it means to love others in the Biblical sense of the term until and unless we know and trust God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. “We love,” says John,” “because he first loved us” (4:19). By the same token, once we know God’s love in Christ we cannot help but love God and others; “whoever loves God must also love his brother” (4:21).

Like Lucinda Williams, John wants his readers to know that they were “born to be loved.” God’s ultimate purpose for each of us is not to be forsaken, mistreated, abandoned to a life of misery and suffering—but to be loved. For John, however, this is not a matter of vague human sentiment or emotion. The love that we were born to know is rooted not in a human emotion or experience, but in a human (and divine) person, Jesus Christ. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, was born so that we might be loved. He was abandoned, forsaken, mistreated, subjected to unspeakable misery and suffering on the cross (by God himself!) so that we could know and have unshakeable confidence in God’s love for us in
Christ. Knowing that love is what makes life worth living, and only that love can enable and empower us to love others in ways that please God and meet people’s deepest needs.

Obviously, “love” is a major theme in many other books of the Bible and in Scripture as a whole—some of these key portions of Scripture will be referenced in this study, and others in materials yet to come. But when pondering the theme “Live Love(d), there is no better place to start than with the “apostle of love” and with the letter that—in terms of verbal density—has more to say about what “real love” is than any other book of the Bible…and other book in human history. God’s rich blessings as you open your heart and soul to this life‐giving, life‐changing Word of God!

What follows is a basic, introductory study of First John that is designed primarily to unpack and stimulate thinking about the 2013 Gathering theme “Live Love(d).”

Download a PDF of the Thematic & Scriptural Study.

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