Perfect Love: Keeping His Word.
'Whoso keepeth His words, in him verily hath the love of God been perfected.'—John ii. 5.
TAULER says of the Apostle John: * In three ways, dear children, did the beloved Lord attract to Himself the heart of John.
'First, did the Lord Jesus call him out of the world to make him an apostle.
'Next, did He grant to him to rest upon His loving breast.
'Thirdly, and this was the greatest and most perfect nearness, when on the holy day of Pentecost He gave to him the Holy Ghost, and opened to him the door through which he should pass into the heavenly places.
'Thus, children, does the Lord first call you from the world aud make you to bo the messengers of God. And next, He draws you close to Himself, that you may learn to know H13 holy gentleness and lowliness, and His deep and burning love, and His perfect unshrinking obedience.
'And yet this is not all. Many have been drawn thus far, and are satisfied to go no further. And yet they are far from the perfect nearness which the heart of Jesus desires.
'St. John lay at one moment on the breast of the Lord Jesus, and then he forsook Him and fled.
'If you have been brought so far as to rest on the breast of Christ, it is well. But yet there was to John a nearness still to come, one moment of which would be worth a hundred years of all that had gone before. The Holy Ghost was given to him—the door was opened.
There is a nearness in which we lose ourselves, and God is all in all. This may come to us in one swift moment, or we may wait for it with longing hearts, and learn to know it at last. It was of this St. Paul spoke when he said that the thing which the heart hath not conceived, God hath now revealed to us by His Holy Spirit. The soul is drawn within the inner chamber, and there are the wonders and the riches revealed.'l 1 Three Friends of God. By Mrs. Bevan.
To understand a writer it is often needful to know his character and history. When John wrote the Epistle he had for fifty years been living in that inmost nearness of which Tauler speaks, in the inner chamber within the veil. While on earth Jesus had found in him a congenial spirit, receptive of His highest spiritual teaching, one to whom He felt drawn in special love. Fifty years of intercourse with the Son in the glory of the Father, and experience of the power of the Holy Spirit to make the eternal life, the heavenly life of Jesus in fellowship with the Father, an everyday reality,—no wonder that when John testifies of it as a life of perfect love, the Church that is not living on this level can only speak of it as an ideal, in this life unattainable. To one who thinks of what John was and knew of his Lord, and what a Church under his teaching would be, the words are simply descriptive of characters he saw around him; men to whom he could write: 'Beloved, if our hearts condemn us not, toe liave boldness toward God . . . because we keep His commandments, and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.' 'Whoso keepeth His word, in him verily hath the love of God been perfected.'
John is the disciple whom Jesus loved I The words Jesus spoke about the love of God had a special attraction for him; the love with which Jesus loved him exercised its mighty influence; the Holy Spirit that came from the heart of the glorified Jesus intensified and spiritualised it all; and John became the Apostle of Love, who, gazing into the very depths of the Divine Glory and Being, found there that God Is Love. With this word, Love, as the sum of his theology, he links the word he found in the Old Testament and in the writings of his brother apostles, the word Perfect, and tells us that this is perfection, this the highest type of Christian character, the highest attainment of the Christian life—for a man to have God's love perfected in him.
The condition and the mark of this being perfected in love Jesus had taught him: 'If a man love me, he will keep my word: and my Father will love him; and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.' Keeping His word: this is the link between the love of the disciple and the love of the Father, leading to that wondrous union in which the Father's love draws Him to come and dwell in the loving heart. 'If ye keep my commandmetits,' Jesus said, 'ye shall abide in my love: even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in His love.' And John confirms from his own experience what the Master spake: 'Whoso keepeth His word, in him hath the love of God been perfected.'
Thank God! this is a life to be found on earth: God's love can be perfected in us. Let not what we see in the Church around us make us doubt God's word. When John spoke of Perfect Love, and Paul of the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, they testified from personal experience of what they had received in direct communication from the throne of glory. The words were to them the expression of a life of which we have little conception; to us they convey no more truth than our low experience can put into them. Oh! that our hearts might be roused to believe in their heavenly, supernatural, fulness of meaning, and not to rest until we know that the love that passeth knowledge, the love that God is, the love of Christ, dwells within us as a fountain springing up unto everlasting life: 'The Love Op God Perfected In Us '—the prospect is sure to every one who will allow the love of God in Christ to have the mastery, and to prove what God can do for them that love Him.