Perfect Love: Being as He is.
'Herein is love made perfect in us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, even so are we in this world.'—1 John iv. 17.
LET us look back on the steps in the life of perfected love that have been set before us thus far. The Divine love entering the heart, manifests itself first in loving obedience to Christ. Of that obedience, love to the brethren in active exercise becomes the chief mark and manifestation. In this obedient love and loving obedience, the principle of fellowship with God, God abiding in us, is developed and strengthened. Of this fellowship the Holy Spirit gives the evidence and abiding consciousness. Such is the path in which love is perfected. Obedience to Christ: love to the brethren; the indwelling of God in us, and ours in Him; the communication and revelation of all this by the Holy Spirit: all these are correlated ideas—they imply and condition each other. Together they make up the blessed life of perfect love.
The perfect heart began by seeking God wholly and alone. It found Him in the perfect way, of obedient love to the Lord, ministering and loving to the brethren. So it came in Christ to the Father, and fellowship with Him. So it was prepared and opened for that special illumination of the Spirit which revealed God's indwelling: the Father came to take up His abode. What was at first but a little seed—the perfect heart—has grown up and borne fruit; the perfect heart is now a heart in which the love of God is perfected. Love has taken full possession, and reigns throughout the whole being.
Has the apostle now anything more that he can say of perfect love 1 Yes; two things. Ho tells what is its highest blessing: 'Herein is love made perfect in us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment.' And what is its deepest ground or reason 1 'Because as He is, even so are we in the world.' The former of these two thoughts we find again in the next verso. Let us here consider the latter.
'Because as He is, even so are we in the world.' It is in Christ we are perfect . It ia with the same perfection with which Christ was perfected Himself that He made us perfect, that God now perfects us. Our place in Christ implies perfect unity of life and spirit, of disposition and character. John gathers up all the elements of perfect love he has mentioned, and in view of the day of judgment, and the boldness perfect love will give us, combines them into this one, 'Because as He is, even so are we in the world.'
'As He is, so are we.' In chap. ii. he had said, 'He that saith he abideth in Him, ought himself also to walk even as He walked.' Likeness to Christ in His walk of obedience on earth is the mark of perfect love.
In chap. iii. we read, 'Every one that hath this hope set on Him (the hope of being like Him, when we shall see Him as He is), perfecteth himself, even as He is pure.' Likeness to Christ in His heavenly purity is the mark of perfect love.
In chap. iii. we read further, 'Hereby know we love, because He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.' Likeness to Christ in His love to us is the mark of perfect love.
In the last night Jesus prayed, 'That they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one.' Likeness to Christ in His fellowship with the Father, God in us and we in Him, is the mark of perfect love. God gave Christ to save us, by becoming our life, by taking us up into union with Himself. God could have no higher aim, could bestow no higher blessing than that He should see Christ in us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment. Herein is love made perfect, 'because as He is, even so are we in the world.'
'That we may have boldness in the day of judgment,' God hath committed judgment unto the Son, as the perfected Son of man. His judgment will be a spiritual one: Himself will be its standard; likeness to Him the fitness to pass in and reign with Him. Perfect love is perfect union and perfect likeness; we have boldness even in the day of judgment: because as He is, even so are we in this world. 0 ye seekers after perfection! it is in Christ it is to be found. In Him is God's love revealed; in Him and His life you enter into it, and it enters into you; in Him love takes possession, and transforms you into His likeness; in Him God comes to make His abode in you; in Him love is perfected. The prayer is fulfilled, 'That the love wherewith Thou lovest Me may be in them, and I in them.' The love of God is perfected in us; we are perfected in love; we have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, even so are we.
The Love of God, as a fire from the altar before the Throne, as the Presence of the God of love Himself living in us, makes itself felt in its Heavenly power, so that the world may know that God has loved us, as He loved His Son. The Love that flows from God to Christ rests on us too, and makes us one with Him. As He, the Son, is, in heaven, even so are we, in the world, living in the Father and in His love.