1 John 4:9-10, 1 John 4:11-12

Ben Doggett reflects on what the love of a father looks like.

Ben Doggett
Ben Doggett

As a teenager I had an outstanding mane of long curly hair. My enviable locks would bounce on the shoulders of my big baggy jumpers as I embraced a particularly relaxed approach to life! It was during this chilled and rather hairy phase that I ended up with the chance to give an explanation of my Christian faith. I remember being in a classroom with some friends and, during a conversation about Christianity, I decided to share my great nugget of wisdom. I confidently declared "Basically, Christianity is just about loving God and loving everyone else!"

In the 10 years that have followed, my hair has returned to a more conservative length and my understanding of my faith has certainly become more robust. But there was a simplicity to my thinking at that time that challenges the modern, knitwear version of me to re-evaluate what's really important.

A few months ago I became a Dad and that's launched me into a completely new journey of discovery. So far the most significant shift in my thinking has been in the area of love.

My son was a mere three hours old when I first had his poo on my hands. You'd be pleased to hear that, under any normal circumstances, I'd thoroughly object to having someone else's poo on my hands. However, in that moment with my son, I wasn't bothered in the slightest! In fact, I found it strangely endearing!

Currently, the give/receive ratio in my relationship with my baby son is quite firmly stacked with me on the giving side and he on the receiving. And yet despite that, I love him with everything I've got and find myself wanting to show him more of that love everyday.

I was recently reading 1 John 4, which is an incredible passage of scripture when it comes to thinking about love. In it we're reminded that God showed His love for us by sending Jesus to die in our place.

'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. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.' (1 John 4:9-10)

Because of this incredible display of love, by a God who is love, we're implored to love each other.

'Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No-one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.' (1 John 4:11-12)

That's not always an easy thing to do, especially when we feel we get nothing in return from the people we ought to love. But here's seven words of scripture with limitless depth:

'We love because He first loved us.' (1 John 4:19)

Sometimes it feels so unnatural to love others. But this begs the question, 'Have we received His love first?' God doesn't expect us to love others because we're nice Christians and that's what nice Christians have to do. He expects us to love others because He made the first step. He loved us despite the fact that we're prone to being so unlovable!

Why don't you ask God to show you afresh the wonders of the love that He has for you? The magnificent love that He's displayed through Jesus. As our hearts rejoice in that love we can then allow it to overflow into our families, friends, colleagues and communities.

The world around us is desperate for authentic love. He is the only source. Let's display His love, because He's loved us first. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.