A little child might ask, “Where is God? I can't see him. How do I know he is real?” In their own way, these chapters answer those questions. John writes, “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (4:12). God is spirit, and we do not see him. But we see the evidence of his presence. God’s love is displayed in his people. This is the sort of love that does not come naturally to us. It is a divine love, which is obvious. God works in his children so that we believe and testify that Jesus has come as our savior. God lives in us and casts out fear. God creates in us a desire to obey his commandments. Though we sin, because God works in us, we less and less sin and are becoming more and more like God.
The evidence is clear. We are different. We live differently than others. Our eyes and hearts are focused on God. This is not to boast about our own inherent goodness. This is not to ignore that we once lived differently. It is not to claim that we presently live sinlessly. It is to acknowledge that God’s existence is shown by his good and gracious work in us. And when we think on these things our love for God grows ever stronger.
My God, I love Thee, not because
I hope for heav’n thereby,
nor yet for fear that, loving not,
I might forever die.
But for that Thou didst all mankind
upon the cross embrace;
for us didst bear the nails and spear,
and manifold disgrace;
And griefs and torments numberless,
and sweat of agony,
e’en death itself, and all for man,
who was Thine enemy.
Then why, most loving Jesus Christ,
should I not love Thee well?
Not for the sake of winning heav’n,
nor any fear of hell;
Not with the hope of gaining aught,
nor seeking a reward,
but as Thyself hast loved me,
O ever-loving Lord!
E'en so I love Thee, and will love,
and in Thy praise will sing,
solely because Thou art my God,
and my eternal King!--Francis Xavier (16th century)